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One dead, 30 hurt in water slide collapse

cracked slide photo

Students ignored warning

June 3, 1997
Web posted at: 2:25 p.m. EDT (1825 GMT)

In this story:

CONCORD, California (CNN) -- A popular northern California amusement park remained closed Tuesday, the day after a water slide collapsed, killing a teen-age girl and critically injuring six of her high school classmates.

icon Witnesses describe the collapse
AIFF or WAV sound)
(425 K / 18 sec. audio)

At least 30 people were injured in Monday afternoon's accident at Waterworld USA, about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco.

The students -- seniors on a pre-graduation outing -- ignored a lifeguard's warning and tried to ride down the 75-foot-tall slide together, according to Waterworld general manager Steve Mayer.

'Our guard couldn't control it'

"Our guard couldn't control it," he said of the large gathering of teen-agers going down the water slide.

The accident occurred soon after the park announced that Napa High School students visiting Waterworld -- about 120 in all, according to the school -- should return to their buses for the trip home.

At that point, some of the them rushed to the top of the slide, according to Rick McCurley, vice president of Premier Parks Inc., which owns Waterworld.

Survivors said they were trying to break a school record for total number on the slide when it gave way.

Water turned red with blood

rescuers photo

Witnesses said people on the winding slide, called the Banzai Pipeline, crashed to the ground when it collapsed. The pool of water below turned red with blood.

The injured teens were screaming and crying for help, witnesses said. "It was a very chaotic scene at first," one police officer at the park said. "It was pandemonium," another officer said.

One girl, a 17-year-old Napa student who was not identified, died 45 minutes later from a crushed chest. Helicopters and ambulances transported the injured to nine hospitals.

In a statement issued late on Monday, Premier Parks defended its safety record. "Safety is our number one priority. Based upon what we know at this point, we believe this slide was safe," the company said.

Concord police Lt. Jim Jennings said city officials would conduct an investigation at the site.

He said police were not aware before this incident of any safety problems at the park.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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