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Girl dies after falling from ride at popular theme park

The scene at Drayton Manor theme park today
The scene at Drayton Manor theme park today

An 11-year-old girl on a school trip to Drayton Manor theme park has died after falling from one of the rides.

The girl, who is from the Leicester area, fell from the Splash Canyon water ride at the Tamworth-based theme park on Tuesday afternoon.

Reading a statement from the park, a visibly shaken company director George Bryan said: "We are all truly shocked and devastated, and our thoughts are with the family and friends at this tremendously difficult time."

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said crews arrived on the scene and discovered a girl with serious injuries who had been rescued from the water by park staff.

The spokesman added: "Ambulance staff administered advanced life support before she was flown to Birmingham Children's Hospital with the doctor continuing treatment en route.

"Unfortunately, shortly after arrival at hospital the girl passed away."

Police Superintendent Carl Ratcliffe said: "Specially-trained officers are supporting the girl's family at this difficult time. Our thoughts are very much with her family and friends following this tragic incident."

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it was making initial inquiries alongside the emergency services.

The ride was closed following the incident, although much of the park remained open until 5pm.

In his statement, Mr Bryan said: "Further to a police statement which has been issued a few moments ago, it is with great sadness we have to report a young girl has passed away at Birmingham Children's Hospital following an incident on one of our rides this afternoon.

"Our staff were alerted that an 11-year-old girl had entered the water.

"Trained park staff were immediately on scene tending to the patient and West Midlands Ambulance arrived and airlifted her to hospital.

"We are all truly shocked and devastated, and our thoughts are with the family and friends at this horrendously difficult time."

Mr Bryan is the grandson of the park's original owners George and Vera Bryan - who first opened the attraction back in 1949.

He appeared shocked and struggled to get his words out, at one point his voice breaking, as he read the statement to assembled press in the on-site hotel.

Soon after the girl's fall, as staff and medics went to the scene, other park staff shepherded the public away from the area.

New visitors were prevented from entering the park at about 4pm, however guests at the hotel were allowed to remain.

The ride opened in 1993, and features up to 21 boats each with a capacity of six people.

It is open to anyone at least 0.9m (3ft) tall, although those under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.

The theme park's website promises "a wild ride" with "fast-flowing rapids".

It adds: "Swerve around corners, splash through the waves, and get soaked as your boat is swept along our fast-flowing rapids. No two experiences are ever the same ...

"You'll feel like you're in the middle of the jungle as you speed, bounce, and splash your way around our river, past other rides and through the trees, experiencing the most unpredictable and thrilling of river rapid rides. It's called Splash Canyon for a reason."

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said: "The HSE has been made aware of today's incident at Drayton Manor and is making initial inquiries along with emergency services."

Cllr Philip Atkins, Staffordshire County Council leader, said: "It is absolutely sad and shocking news to hear how a day of adventure has ended in such tragedy for this young girl, and our thoughts are very much with her family and friends this evening.

"Drayton Manor Theme Park was opened as a family business back in 1949 and I know the Bryan family, who are still involved with the park today, will be absolutely devastated by this accident and will undoubtedly do all they can to help find out how this tragic accident occurred."

It is not known if the site will be open to the public on Wednesday.