Safety Procedures Ignored in Okla. Water Park Death

August 11, 2005

Okla. Commissioner of Labor Brenda Reneau released the “Final Investigatory Report” of the recent fatality incident at Sun & Fun Water Park, Ponca City. A park employee, 17-year-old Alan J. Bray, died from injuries he sustained after falling from a water slide during an after-hours party.

Bray fell over the side of the park’s popular Twister water slide as he and other employees rode it in a manner that violated posted safety signs, according to the report.

Releasing the study, Commissioner Reneau said, “It breaks your heart to review and then release a report like this. We can only move forward when everyone involved recommits themselves to safe procedures to keep amusement parks, including water rides, places where safety is so fundamental and ingrained that such a tragic incident never happens again.”

On the morning after Alan Bray’s death, Commissioner Reneau ordered a review of safety standards at all known Oklahoma water parks. The agency began its review on Aug. 1.

In a key conclusion, all of the Labor Department’s inspectors believe “probably one or more of the four boys who dammed the exit from the entry pool and then rode down the flue made contact with Bray causing him to be ejected from the slide.”

Eyewitnesses reported Bray was standing as the inner tube train was impacted by 942 pounds of water, empty inner tubes and riders. It is also “the opinion of all ODOL investigators that had Bray been seated, he would not have been ejected from the flue.”

The investigatory report concludes with six recommendations, including that violations of posted rules, industry standards, insurance requirements and applicable laws “should never be allowed to occur again.” Cooperation between management and owners at the park “should be brought to a level which provides for a safe operation” at all times. The Labor Department also said safety signs for water-related rides “should be brought up to accepted industry standards” and put in compliance with the Oklahoma Amusement Ride Safety Law.

Other recommendations include a requirement that “all park personnel should be trained that safe behavior” on rides is mandatory “at all times.” Records of “all training, pre-opening inspections, maintenance logs and all other documentation as required” by law “must be maintained and placed on file at the park offices at all times.” Finally, the agency said maintenance issues raised in its investigation “should be addressed, remedied, and proof of remediation should be documented with all deliberate speed.”

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