Investigation opens into theme park ride death

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Drayton Manor is the UK's fifth most popular theme park

An investigation has been launched into the death of an 11-year-old girl who fell into the water from a river rapids ride at a Staffordshire theme park.

She fell from the Splash Canyon ride at Drayton Manor in Tamworth.

The girl has been named as Evha Jannath, from Leicester.

The pupil at Leicester’s Jameah Girls Academy was flown to Birmingham Children’s Hospital but died shortly after arriving.

A spokesperson for Staffordshire Police said: “Evha sadly died after falling from a water ride at the theme park.

“She 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 passed away.

“A Health and Safety Executive investigation has now begun with the full support of Staffordshire Police.

“The family are being supported by specially trained officers. We would ask everyone to respect the family’s right to grieve in private during this extremely difficult time.”

The emergency services said they were called at 2.18pm on Tuesday and were on the scene within minutes.

The Splash Canyon ride, pictured a few days ago

Feeona Fletcher, who was on a nearby ride at the time, told Sky News: “We saw the park golf buggy thing coming down and the guy was shouting ‘clear the way, clear the way’.

“Suddenly two paramedic cars came flying down through the park and into that area.

“By the time we got off the carousel, maybe a minute or two, there were fire engines, ambulances, police cars.

“The air ambulance was over our heads. It was so fast.”

Drayton Manor’s director, George Bryan, said staff were “immediately on the scene” after the girl fell in.

The ride has 21 boats, with six people in each

Appearing visibly shaken, he told reporters: “We’re all truly shocked and devastated and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this tremendously difficult time.”

Jameah Academy said in a statement that it was “liaising with the relevant authorities” and supporting pupils and staff.

The statement said the school would be closed on Wednesday.

“Please be assured that the safety and wellbeing of all of our pupils is a priority,” it added.

The ride was shut after the incident, but people already inside the park were allowed to stay until the usual closing time of 5pm.

Drayton Manor will be closed today as a mark of respect.

Splash Canyon opened in 1993 and is described as Drayton Manor’s “very own river rapids”.

A helicopter flew the girl to Birmingham Children’s Hospital

It has a maximum capacity of 126 people – 21 boats with six people in each – and a minimum height of 0.9m.

The boats have a central circular bar to hold on to, but in online footage the seats do not appear to have any other restraints.

Drayton Manor – which includes a Thomas the Tank Engine-themed area – opened in 1949 and is the UK’s fifth most popular theme park.

An incident on Alton Towers’ Smiler ride in June 2015 led to two teenagers losing a leg and left 14 others injured.

The park was later fined £5m over health and safety failures.

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