Channel 4 reports that 13 high school students (ages 12 through 17) were hurt this past Thursday after a water slide at the Eagle Harbor Community Pool collapsed The accident sent five students to the hospital. According to the news, the Fleming Island High School Band was hosting a pool party at the community pool when the slide collapsed. At the time of the accident there were 10 to 15 people on the slide even though a sign located at stairs leading to the slide stated only one occupant should be on the slide at a time. Officials said one-third of the slide collapsed into a nearby retention pond.The chairwoman of the Clay County School Board told the news station that two students were transported by rescuers to a local hospital Thursday night. Most of the injuries were said to be minor in nature, with some of the teens suffering abrasions, lacerations and bruises. One student reportedly went to UF Health with a head injury, but is said to be in stable condition. Four others went to Baptist Clay Medical Center with minor neck and back injuries.
What type of enforcement does Eagle Harbor have to enforce their safety rules? Instead of having a lifeguard at the top to make sure only one person slides at a time, they only have one lifeguard at the bottom of the slide. Eagle Harbor’s website states that the Screaming Eagle slide policy is for only one personto ride at a time. Even with the written rule, it doesn’t sound like Eagle Harbor enforces the rule. Channel 4 interviewed individuals who frequent the Screaming Eagle, and they said they often see 2 riders going down the slide at a time. One person told News4Jax that they’ve seen four or five people on the slide at one time.
According to the Clay County Health Department, the department doesn’t inspect Eagle Harbor’s slide. State Bureau of Fair Rides officials said they don’t inspect private slides like Eagle Harbor’s, but if they did, spokeswoman Erin Gillespie said, they would check the structure of the slide and the fasteners and joints.
It will be interesting to see if Clay County changes their rules and starts to inspect private water slides like the Screaming Eagle. I am curious if the slide had started to wear down and had some loose fasteners that suddenly broke away once they were subjected to that amount of weight. I hope that Eagle Harbor changes some of their policies and hires another lifeguard to be at the top of that slide to prevent another accident like this.