Water park staff 'asked customers for goggles' in search for girl, 11
‘Unprepared’ staff ‘frantically begged customers for goggles’ so they could look for girl, 11, who died after going missing on inflatable assault course at water park
- The victim, named by witnesses as Kyra, was at Liquid Leisure in Berkshire
- She was doing an hour-long session at 3pm on Saturday with 10 of her friends
- Fun became ‘complete chaos’ as a mother began screaming her name at 3.40pm
- Kyra found at 5.10pm and taken to Wexham Park Hospital, but could not be saved
- Police are now investigating her death, which is being treated as unexplained
- Were you at Liquid Leisure water park? Please email: [email protected]
Staff at a waterpark where an 11-year-old girl tragically died during an aqua assault course birthday party begged customers for goggles so they could search for underwater, witnesses have today claimed.
As many as 40 people, including members of the public, are believed to have dived into the water at Liquid Leisure, near Datchet, Berkshire, as part of a frantic rescue mission on Saturday.
Were you at Liquid Leisure water park?
Please email: [email protected]
The victim, named by witnesses as Kyra, was supposed to be on the Total Wipeout-style challenge with around ten friends for an hour-long session at 3pm.
But the fun turned to terror after the mother of one of the children started screaming her name at around 3.40pm.
It is believed Kyra had not returned from the inflatable session – in which participants are provided with lifejackets – prompting parents and staff to start searching changing rooms at the facility.
Some children suggested Krya could not swim and was last seen ‘going underwater’ and ‘not returning to the surface’, sparking panic at the water park.
A witnesses said around 30 to 40 people took part in the frantic 90 minute search for missing Kyra. Witnesses claim they waited for latest 40 minutes before any emergency services arrived on the scene.
Two search helicopters later joined in the search. Kyra was found at 5.10pm and taken to Wexham Park Hospital – but could not be saved.
Police are now investigating her death, which is being treated as unexplained.
As many as 40 people, including members of the public, are believed to have dived into the water at Liquid Leisure (pictured: Flowers left outside the facility), near Datchet, Berkshire, in a frantic rescue mission on Saturday
Lifeguards were reportedly running all over the obstacles and looking under them. Pictured: Library image
A girl of 11 died at a water park birthday party after she went missing on a giant inflatable assault course
Tearful staff lay flowers after girl, 11 dies in ‘tragic incident’ at water park in Berkshire
The tragic incident too place at the lake by Liquid Leisure in Windsor
It comes as witnesses claimed how lifeguards started pulling apart the inflatable equipment, including parts of the nearby Ninja Warrior obstacle course, after 20 minutes in a bid to find the missing girl.
Others claimed how panicked staff asked customers for goggles so they could look for missing Kyra underwater.
Witnesses yesterday slammed the water park for an alleged lack of an emergency plan and said teenage lifeguards were ‘not prepared’ to deal with the tragedy.
Others said how there were a ‘ridiculous amount of people on the inflatables’ – which are pre-booked in 50 minute slots – before the tragedy struck.
James Bull, 25, was among the visitors who tried to find Kyra. ‘It was a complete shambles,’ he told the Mail.
‘I saw the lady shouting for Kyra, then I bumped into a couple of young girls who said they were Kyra’s friends.
‘They showed me a picture and said she was in a black swimsuit and grey footwear. They said she can’t swim and was struggling – then she went under.’
The 11-year-old girl got into difficulty at Liquid Leisure in Datchet (site pictured this morning)
An investigation into how the child tragically died yesterday were still ongoing this morning
Witnesses say lifeguards started pulling apart the inflatable equipment, including parts of the nearby Ninja Warrior obstacle course, after ’20 minutes’ in a bid to find the missing girl. Pictured: The park is currently closed while police investigate
Emergency services were called at around 3.55pm on Saturday to reports of the child getting into difficulty at Liquid Leisure near Datchet. Pictured: The site at Liquid Leisure
He asked to borrow goggles and jumped in, but said the unclear water made it hard to see. Mr Bull, of Guildford, Surrey, said staff ‘need proper training’.
‘There should also be a limit on the number of people in the pool area,’ he added. ‘How could they not see her go under?
‘Why didn’t they have goggles or diving equipment? There were more adults and parents in the water looking for her than lifeguards, it was a complete joke.’
Another visitor, a 32-year-old mother-of-two, said: ‘There didn’t seem to be a single adult in charge. It was horrendous.
‘One of the lifeguards said he didn’t want to get in because he didn’t want to get his trainers wet.
‘Some were screaming to get goggles. I can’t begin to tell you how poorly dealt with it was. The mother was queuing with her friends for the main inflatable course when the woman came over and said she had lost a child.
‘It was surreal. It just got more and more serious, and the place got more and more silent.
‘As a mum, seeing that, you just can’t even begin to imagine what she was going through. It was so horrendous. I am just honestly so angry. There didn’t seem to be an emergency plan.’
A witness said the girl was seen going under the water and said that she ‘didn’t come back up…At that point, the lifeguards came running.’
Two rescue helicopters were deployed in a bid to search for the girl, who went missing on Saturday
Another witness said: ‘Lifeguards were running all over the obstacles and looking under them. They were dismantling the Ninja Warrior (inflatable obstacle course), near the beach looking for her.
‘Staff actually started asking customers for goggles to look for her underwater.’
One told Sky News: ‘It’s a really busy place and there are a lot of people but after about 15 minutes it just went totally silent. I can’t even describe the tension that built up.
‘In the space of a few minutes when they cleared the inflatables and they got all the staff on them, that’s when it became apparent something was really wrong.’
She has criticised the park and said: ‘There was no emergency plan. They did not have any tannoy system or any alarm.’
Others described how dozens of members of the public joined in the search and rescue operation.
One witness, a 34-year-old woman, who lives outside Reading and was at the park with her sons on Saturday, told ITV: ‘They (friends and family of the girl) were asking all of us to shout her name, describing her as shoulder height on an adult, with shoulder-length brown hair.
‘There was one lady in particular who was either her mum or someone close to her, that was in swimwear and was visibly shaking and crying whilst shouting for her.
‘As the situation unfolded, with every minute that passed by you could see the rising panic amongst the onlookers.’
The gates to the leisure park were shut this morning, with numerous ‘CLOSED’ signs placed
Flowers have been left at the scene where the 11-year-old girl died on Saturday, following an incident at the water park
People yesterday visited the water park to put flowers outside the gates of the facility, which is currently closed
She also praised the work of lifeguards during the rescue efforts. The woman said: ‘The lifeguards were truly amazing.
‘I reckon there were probably around 30-40 people in the water – a mix of what appeared to be staff and public.’
Witnesses said there were between 30 and 50 children on the assault course when Kyra went missing.
The park’s birthday party packages include a 50-minute session on the aqua park, wetsuit hire and food and drink for £27 per person.
The park also offers stag and hen parties – where customers drink at the facility’s licensed bar after their session.
The lake is up to six metres deep in parts – dangerous for non-swimmers. Gavin Springett, who worked at the park last summer on training, said: ‘No corners were ever cut on safety.’
He said there were lifeguards on every section of the inflatable course, and that staff are trained monthly on water rescue while buoyancy vests are compulsory on all inflatables, even for adults.
Meanwhile, customers or their parents are asked to sign a waiver on their behalf clarifying that those taking part are ‘competent swimmers’ who are ‘confident in deep open water’ and have a ‘reasonable level of fitness’.
It also asks participants to accept that there is ‘an element of danger and risk of physical or emotional injury’ involved in taking part in the course.
Customers or their parents are asked to sign a waiver on their behalf clarifying that those taking part are ‘competent swimmers’ who are ‘confident in deep open water’ and have a ‘reasonable level of fitness’
The waiver also asks participants to accept that there is ‘an element of danger and risk of physical or emotional injury’ involved in taking part in the course.
Alongside the standard aqua park, which is open to children as young as six but recommended for those aged 10 and over, there is a ‘junior’ aqua park for children aged 4-9.
The country’s first Ninja Warrior Aqua Park, based on the hit ITV assault course show by the same name, also opened in May.
Last night, Superintendent Michael Greenwood of Thames Valley Police commended parents who jumped into the lake for their bravery.
He said: ‘This has been an extremely traumatic and upsetting incident for all involved.
‘I am aware that several members of the public entered the lake shortly after the girl got into difficulty, but were unable to locate her.
‘I would like to commend them for their courage and bravery.’
In a statement, Liquid Leisure said they would assist police, adding: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and all those affected by this desperately tragic and upsetting incident.
‘As Thames Valley police are in the early stages of an investigation it would not be right for us to add further comment, but we will continue to fully support and assist them throughout the process.’
Earlier this year bosses of the aqua park flagged that they were ‘deeply worried’ that it would have to shut – with 300 jobs at risk – due to a planning row with the council.
According to the Maidenhead Advertiser, Liquid Leisure was served with an enforcement notice in December 2020 require the park to remove most of the buildings on the site amid claims they had breached planning rules.
The council say this is because the addition of the water park and its use as a party venue had deviated from its planning permission for water-skiing and windsurfing.
The planning row was set to be subject to a four day inquiry by the planning inspectorate in March this year.
But it was postponed after the inspector, who was due to attend the water park as part of the inquiry, fell ill with Covid.
Source: Read Full Article