Stoke & Staffordshire

Drayton Manor: Park to stay closed after Evha Jannath's death

Evha Jannath Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Evha Jannath fell out of a circular boat on the Splash Canyon attraction

A theme park where an 11-year-old girl died in a fall from a water ride will remain closed for a second day.

Evha Jannath fell from a boat on the Splash Canyon rapids attraction during a school trip to Drayton Manor theme park in Staffordshire on Tuesday.

Her family, from Leicester, want the ride to stay shut throughout the investigations and have asked for the immediate release of her body.

They said she was "a beautiful little girl who was full of love".

In a statement thanking emergency services, the park said Tuesday's events had "shaken the whole Drayton Manor family, from the board, through to staff and visitors.

"The park will be closed on Thursday to allow the Health and Safety Executive to complete their work.

"Our thoughts are with the family and all those who have been affected by Tuesday's incident," it said.

Image copyright ThemeParks.ie
Image caption Splash Canyon opened in 1993 and features up to 21 boats

Evha's family, who released a statement through the campaign office of Leicester politician Keith Vaz on Wednesday evening, called for a comprehensive investigation and the suspension of the ride until it was completed.

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"The family has requested a full inquiry into the circumstances surrounding this tragic death and welcome the actions taken so far by Staffordshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)," the statement reads.

"The family requests that the ride in question is suspended until the inquiry is concluded and the full facts are established.

"They have asked for the immediate release of Evha's body so that it can be buried according to their religious rites and customs.

"This terrible loss is felt not only by the family but by the community as a whole."

Earlier on Wednesday, the family said their "world was torn apart" following Evha's death.

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

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Media captionRide death girl was 'sweet-natured'

The family-run theme park, near Tamworth, was closed on Wednesday as "a mark of respect".

Evha's school, Jameah Girls Academy in Leicester, was also closed for the day.

Erfana Bora, the head teacher at the Islamic day school, described Evha as a "lovely, sweet-natured girl [who] was loved by everyone".

"We are trying to make sense of this terrible tragedy. Our thoughts and our prayers are with Evha's family,"

Prayers were said for the schoolgirl at the Jameah Mosque in Leicester.

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Media captionDrayton Manor: Latest aerial footage shows empty rides

The Splash Canyon ride, which opened in 1993 and features up to 21 boats each with a capacity of six people, promises "a wild ride" with "fast-flowing rapids". Height restrictions are imposed and in some cases children are required to be accompanied by an adult.

In response to Tuesday's events, a number of other UK theme parks closed similar rides.

Merlin Entertainments, which runs Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Legoland, said it was temporarily closing its rapid rides until more information about what happened was known.

"We are aware of the tragic events at Drayton Manor and our thoughts are with the family and all of those affected," a spokesman said.

"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."

Image caption Tributes were left at Drayton Manor Park in memory of Evha Jannath

Emergency crews were called to the park at about 14:15 BST to find Evha had been pulled from the water by staff but had suffered serious injuries.

She was flown to Birmingham Children's Hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.

The death at Drayton Manor is thought to be the first at a UK theme park since 2004, when a 16-year-old girl fell from the Hydro ride at Oakwood theme park near Tenby, west Wales.

In June 2015, five people were seriously injured in a collision on the Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers, also in Staffordshire.

Last October four people died on a rapids ride at Australia's Dreamworld on Queensland's Gold Coast.

Plans to demolish the attraction were reported the following month.

Image copyright Tom Goodwin
Image caption Emergency services rushed to the park after reports that someone had fallen in the water on a ride on Tuesday

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