Water park sued after lifeguard fatally struck by lightning

It’s August … that time of year when so many of us take breaks from our busy schedules to have fun with our families. Water amusement parks offer a great way to cool off while keeping the kids entertained — and while their adrenaline levels soar as they defy gravity (and blow off some much-needed steam), you can rest assured that the park is being run safely. Right?

Unfortunately, for a lifeguard struck in 2011 by lightning at Tampa’s Adventure Island water park, the answer was a definite “no” — and his family is suing the park. The lifeguard, who turned 21 the day before the tragic incident, was standing in a couple of feet of water evacuating park patrons when lightning hit. He was given CPR by co-workers, and died in a nearby hospital.

The park is under scrutiny for failing to shut down any rides after lightning detection alarms went off. In fact, the equipment had detected 16 separate incidents of lightning striking within zero to five miles of the park, within a half hour before the accident. The park policy requires weather to be carefully monitored, and rides shut down if lightning strikes within five miles of the park.

In addition to the wet environment, many water park rides operate high up and involve metal elements. These combined factors make them a perfect target for lightning. In 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the water park $7,000 for the same reason: failure to comply with lightning safety protocols.

This lifeguard’s family is suing the park for over $15,000 in damages. When we consider the magnitude of loss and expenses the family has suffered, as well as their funerary and legal costs, this is small change. Hopefully their lawyer can help them to obtain the award that they truly deserve as they rebuild their shattered lives. And if you or a loved one have been involved in a premises liability case, you also deserve a lawyer who will understand the depths of your loss, and fight to restore some balance in your life.

The Tampa Tribune, “Adventure Island sued in staffer’s death” Ray Reyes, Aug. 03, 2013