May 2, 2022 - News

Former Adventureland worker alleges rides had known safety flaws

A photo of the Raging River.
The Raging River as it appeared July 11, 2021. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

A former Adventureland worker alleges that the Iowa amusement park's staff knew of safety deficiencies on multiple rides in the years before an accident on the Raging River ride killed a boy last July.

  • That's according to an audio recording, obtained by the Des Moines Register, between Melvin McCollum, a former rides manager, and the Iowa Division of Labor, which is investigating the 2021 fatal incident.

Why it matters: The statements, which an attorney for the Altoona amusement park's former owners denies, raise questions about the oversight of Adventureland and other parks in Iowa.

Catch up fast: Michael Jarmillo, 11, was on the river ride with his family when their raft capsized July 3.

  • A state inspector had given the ride a clean bill of health the day before the accident.
  • But — following the accident — inspectors determined it had multiple safety violations or issues that must be addressed before it could reopen.

State of play: The Krantz family, which owned Adventureland for decades, sold the park to Palace Entertainment in December.

  • The Raging River ride won't return this 2022 season and may be permanently closed, the park's new owners announced last month.

The latest: McCollum's description of deficiencies on other rides at the park includes one that leaked oil and caught fire, one propped up by 2-by-4s and a roller coaster where bolts would frequently come out.

  • A state inspector said issues described by McCollum could have been easily missed because operators have time to prepare for preopening inspections, the Register reports.

What they're saying: McCollum was a seasonal employee who never worked in maintenance, Guy Cook, an attorney representing the Krantz family, told the Register.

  • McCollum was not working for the park at the time of last year's accident. He had not been invited back for the 2021 season after a family member who also worked at the park was fired, Cook told the Register.

Of note: McCollum couldn’t be reached for comment on Cook’s statements by the Register or Axios.

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