Drayton Manor warned that water rapids ride was unsafe three weeks before girl, 11, drowned falling from dinghy

STAFF at Drayton Manor warned that a water rapids ride was unsafe just three weeks before a schoolgirl drowned, a court heard.

Evha Jannath, 11, died after she was flung from a boat on the Splash Canyon ride at the theme park in Staffordshire during a school trip with friends.

The theme park is facing a £2.5 million fine for a string of "systemic failures" after Evha's tragic death on May 9, 2017.

Evha, who was with pals from Jameah Girls Academy in Leicester, was thrown from the dinghy while standing up out of her seat.

She fell into 12ft of water after plunging from the conveyor belt which takes the boats to the ride exit.

A post-mortem found that the schoolgirl was killed by "blunt force chest trauma".

Just 27 days before the fatal incident, staff raised concerns about the visibility of the CCTV system, the risks of people getting out of their seats, and the warning signs.

Splash Canyon has never reopened since Evha's death.

Although an inquest ruled that Evha's death was an accident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Drayton Manor for health and safety breaches.

The park, which has since been sold to a French firm after falling into administration, has already admitted breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

At the start of a two-day sentencing hearing at Stafford Crown Court today, James Puzey, barrister for the HSE, told the judge the accident happened "in context of the systemic failures of safety on this ride".

"The control measures they had were failing every day," he added.

A High Court judge, who will pass sentence tomorrow, heard from the park's own barrister Richard Matthews QC, who said it was "a corporate failing".

The HSE's lawyers said there was "inadequate" signage for those on the ride telling them to stay seated, "inadequate training" for staff, an element of under-staffing and a lack of emergency planning.

Puzey said the CCTV only covered 50 percent of the ride and was "not an effective means of monitoring the boats" or the passengers.

Although signs warned passengers to stay seated, people still got up – but Puzey said the management of the risk was the ride operator's responsibility.

After re-watching CCTV of the ride on the day of the accident, experts recorded 70 occasions of people standing up in the boats.


In separate incidents between 2011 and 2013, four people plunged from the boats into the deepest part of the ride's course where Evha drowned, the court heard.

Although none of the passengers were injured, the court heard details of one involving a 10-year-old boy in August 2013 – similar to the fatal incident involving Evha.

After the death of the young girl, a review concluded it was "an essential requirement" that those working the water ride made sure people stayed in seats, and could "detect and react" to passengers falling in.

Puzey said: "It is clear from the risk assessment that the defendant was aware that guests had actually fallen in and this wasn't a theoretical risk."

One of the ride operator's roles was to use an on-course loud speaker system to stop people standing up – but it was never once used on the day, the court heard.

Puzey said Drayton Manor "accepts it failed to appreciate the seriousness of risk identified in this case – falling out and not being rescued".

Richard Matthews QC, defending Drayton Manor, said: "We want to express the enormous regret for the loss of Evha's life and for the admitted failures to achieve the necessary and high standard of safety planning in this tragedy.

"Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Evha and those closely affected by the tragedy."

Source: Read Full Article