NEWS

Drayton Manor Accident Leads To Closure Of Rides At Alton Towers, Thorpe Park And Legoland

Merlin Entertainments said it was a 'precautionary measure'.

11/05/2017 11:30 | Updated 11 May 2017

Rides at a string of theme parks around the country have been closed following the death of a schoolgirl at Drayton Manor on Tuesday.

Water rides at Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Legolands have been shut after 11-year-old Evha Jannath died when she fell out of a circular boat on the Splash Canyon attraction during a school trip.

Merlin Entertainments, which owns all of the parks, said that the closures were a “precautionary measure”.

SWNS
An aerial view of the Splash Canyon ride at Drayton Manor

Alton Towers’ Congo River Rapids and Thorpe Park’s Rumba Rapids - both made by the same manufacturer - as well as Legoland Windsor’s Viking River Splash were closed, the Sun reported.

In a statement, Merlin Entertainments said: “”We are aware of the tragic events at Drayton Manor and our thoughts are with the family and all of those affected.

“Safety is our number one priority. We have full confidence in the safety of all the rides we operate, but as a precautionary measure, rapid rides at relevant parks will be closed until more details of the incident become available.”

Drayton Manor theme park remained closed on Thursday while investigators from the Health and Safety Executive continued their work.

Jannath, from Leicester, fell out of a boat on the Splash Canyon ride during a school trip to the Tamworth-based theme park.

Staffordshire Police said Evha was recovered from the water and received advanced life support from ambulance crews before she was flown to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where she later died.

In a statement issued through police on Wednesday, her family said: “Yesterday our world was torn apart by the news that our daughter and sister Evha, had lost her life in tragic circumstances, following a school trip to Drayton Manor Park.

“Evha was a beautiful little girl who was full of love and always smiling.

“Words cannot describe the pain and loss we feel, we are devastated that we will not see our beautiful little girl again.

“We ask that you allow us to grieve in private and deal with our loss as a family.”

Jameah Academy, an integrated Islamic day school for girls, will also remain closed for the day, with counselling being offered to pupils affected by the tragedy.

Zainab Mohammad, whose 16-year-old sister went on the trip, said the tight-knit school community had been left devastated by the tragedy, the Press Association reported.

Speaking to reporters near the academy, the 26-year-old said: “It’s tragic. We don’t know what the cause is but what we really want is for the family to be able to grieve.

PA Wire/PA Images
Erfana Bora, headteacher at Jameah Girls Academy in Leicester, reads a statement following the death of Evha Jannath

“A family member has been ripped from their family and it’s a big loss. Everybody is in utter shock, there are no words.

“I couldn’t sleep last night, thinking of this.”

Asked how her sister was coping after the death, Mohammad added: “She came home, she spoke to mum and dad and she just went upstairs.

“She was devastated.

“She didn’t want to talk about it. Nobody knows what’s happened, we can’t speculate on what has happened.”

She also urged people not to speculate about the incident on Facebook and other social media.

Mohammad said: “The school is not very big, everybody knows each other.

“It’s really sad for the kids.”

According to one parent at the Jameah Academy, the girl fell from one of the boats when it hit a rock.

She told the Mail Online: “When the girl got up to change seats just then it hit a rock and she got knocked out of the boat and fell in the water and the water currents dragged her in.”

PA Wire/PA Images
A police officer outside the park in Tamworth

The parent, who asked not to be named, said the girl disappeared from view after falling from the ride.

Jameah Academy said in a statement of “deepest sadness” on its website: “As a school community we are deeply shocked and our thoughts are with our pupil’s family and friends.

“The school will ensure specially trained staff are in school to provide our pupils and staff support at this difficult time.

“We would request that the family and the school community are given time to grieve.

“Please be assured that the safety and wellbeing of our pupils is our foremost priority.

“We are liaising with the relevant authorities and therefore we are unable to provide any further information at this time.”

The academy’s headteacher Erfana Bora said the school community was “trying to make sense of this terrible tragedy”.

She also said pupils and staff would be offered specialist professional counselling with lessons expected to resume on Thursday.

PA Wire/PA Images
Evha Jannath was on a school trip when the tragedy took place

Reading a prepared statement, Bora said: “Yesterday, one of our children, Evha Jannath, passed away in tragic circumstances.

“She was just a lovely and sweet-natured girl, she was loved by everyone at the school.

“As a school and as a community we are trying to make sense of this terrible tragedy.

“Our thoughts and our prayers are with Evha’s family at this most difficult time.

“We will be providing specialist support for our pupils and our staff, and we ask that they be given the time and the space to grieve and to come to terms with our huge loss.”

Suleman Nagdi, from the Federation of Muslim Organisations, said the trip was a regular feature in the school’s calendar and there had been “sufficient staff to monitor and marshal the trip”.

He confirmed none of the other children at the fee-paying school had been physically injured.

Speaking of the little girl, he said she had an older brother thought to be at university, and the family lived locally.

He also addressed speculation about the exact circumstances of the incident, saying: “We don’t wish to comment, rumours are rife and we have to stick to the facts.”

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