Waterpark Accidents Prompt Statewide Inspections

Tuesday, July 17th 2007, 9:29 am
By: News On 6

State inspectors are now taking a close look at all Oklahoma waterparks, in the wake of last month's accident, when a Big Splash slide collapsed underneath a little girl. State safety officials were on site Tuesday morning. The News On 6’s Heather Lewin reports until now, no one was required by the state of Oklahoma to make sure waterpark rides were safe.

Even after the death of a man two years ago at a waterpark near Ponca City, still no state inspections were done. Officials say that combined with the slide collapse in Tulsa last month prompted a new labor commissioner to require Tuesday’s check on the park.

It was a close call no one wants repeated. An 11-year-old girl was on the Master Blaster when a six-foot piece of the chute came crashing down. Luckily the child wasn't injured, but the accident caught the eye of the State Labor Commissioner.

After a death at a Ponca City waterpark in 2005, the state conducted a brief survey of various rides around Oklahoma.

“Revealed a lot of things that were serious hazards and accidents waiting to happen, and we didn't want that,” said Oklahoma Director of Safety Standards Tom Monroe.

Monroe says some of those hazards were found at Big Splash, but it was not an official inspection. After last month's collapse, Big Splash owners brought in their own safety experts.

"The state does not require that state inspectors come in, but we would be more than happy. We'd love to see that happen,” said Big Splash owner Loretta Murphy.

But when that did happen, park managers blocked the media from coming in to see the inspections and had security tell us to leave the property. So what were inspectors looking for?

“It's structured similar to a roller coaster, a large frame with lots of supporting beams and so forth, so the guys are gonna be looking for nuts and bolts and pins, deteriorated lumber and that sort of thing,” Monroe said. “Why is it important? We don't want anybody dead or killed or injured."

Despite refusing comment Tuesday morning, Big Splash manager Amber Beck did return our call. She said she welcomed the inspectors and thinks the state should've started this a long time ago.

Inspections will now be conducted twice a year. We’re told the results of Tuesday’s inspection won't be released until Friday.

Watch the video: Inspectors Take A Closer Look At Oklahoma Water Parks

Related Stories:

6/8/2007 Big Splash Slide Collapses

6/19/2007 Big Splash Accident Still Under Investigation

6/26/2007 State Labor Department To Inspect Big Splash Next Month