Teens Injured During Lazy River Ride - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/29/05

Teens Injured During Lazy River Ride

Two weeks after the Gulf Islands Waterpark opened in Gulfport, 15-year-old Joey Besancon and his friends were eager to check it out.

"I was excited. I thought it was really fun," Joey Besancon said.

But when the three teens took a leisurely stroll along the Lazy Pearl River Thursday, something went wrong.

"We were just walking this time, swimming around in it without the inner tube, and I was walking this far from the wall and it pulled me against it."

Joey says he was able to pull away from the water in-take pipe.

"I was like 'Chase, see if you can go this far and see what happens,' and he did. He got sucked to it. My cousin Jonathan was trying to help pull, but Jonathan had gotten stuck in the other one."

Joey says the lifeguards hit the emergency cut-off switch and jumped in to help pull the teens to safety. He says the rescue took several minutes.

"Just scared, because I didn't know which one to go for. Right after they shut it off, Chase passed out. He just fell and they got him out of the water. Jonathan was dizzy because he had been sucked in for awhile."

Park Manager Tony King told WLOX News, "There are 6 inch in-take lines or pipes along the river to take in water and push it out to create river flow. There are grates located 3 inches inside the openings. If one person stopped up the line, he or she will be released. However, since both boys stopped up both lines, that caused pressure to build up, and created the suction."

Family members asked that the boys be brought to Ocean Springs Hospital, because it's closer to home. The father of one of the teens told us they both suffered severe swelling, and they may have to stay in the hospital at least through Friday night.

When asked if the accident will stop Joey from going back, he said "Oh yeah, because it's too dangerous to go to. It's just stupid for them to let that happen. They should have known that it can suck somebody in to it."

Park Manager Tony King says lifeguards followed all the proper safety procedures. As part of the investigation, King says they have shut off the pumps in the area where the incident happened to make sure they are functioning properly. However, the Lazy River attraction is still open.

by Trang Pham-Bui

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