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After A Deadly Iowa Water Ride Accident, A Teen Is On Life Support.
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After A Deadly Iowa Water Ride Accident, A Teen Is On Life Support.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A teen who was injured in an accident on an Iowa amusement ride that killed his younger brother was still on life support Wednesday as he turned 16, according to his family pastor.

Since Saturday's accident on the Raging River at Altoona's Adventureland Park, David Jaramillo has been in a medically induced coma at Blank Children's Hospital, according to pastor Christian Shields.

David has some brain function and has woken up a couple of times at the Des Moines hospital, opening his eyes and asking what happened, according to Shields. He is still hooked up to breathing machines, but doctors are hoping to wean him off life support, he said.

Shields, pastor of Christian Life Church in Cedar Rapids, called David's survival a miracle after he was pinned beneath a boat in water for several minutes. The church has planned a prayer vigil for the family on Wednesday night and is sponsoring a GoFundMe page that has raised $30,000.

“We’ll be praying for David’s life, that his brain function would miraculously be undamaged and unhindered, and that there would be no long-term lasting effects on him,” he said, adding that “he’s still in very serious condition, but there are some good signs.”

Friends have brought balloons to the hospital in honor of David's birthday, but "there won't be much celebrating."

Shields said the Jaramillo family of Marion, Iowa, went to Adventureland on Saturday to celebrate David's upcoming birthday. David, a junior at Linn-Mar High School, had been looking forward to getting his driver's license as a step toward freedom and adulthood.

On Saturday night, David, his younger brothers Gus, 14, and Michael, 11, as well as their 18-year-old cousin Nyla Pettie and parents Sabrina and David Jaramillo, boarded a boat for the ride, which has been a family-friendly staple of the park since 1983.

Shields said the family's boat flipped over 20 seconds into the ride, causing all six of them to hit their heads on the surface below and become trapped in their seatbelts beneath the water.

The cause of the raft's flip is still unknown, but at least one of its eight bladders was deflated, according to a mandatory "major breakdown" report filed with the state and obtained by The Associated Press.

Guy Cook, an attorney for Adventureland, said the bladder could have deflated during the overturn, and it is too early to draw any conclusions. He added that it was the first time one of the boats had flipped in the ride's 38-year history, despite tens of thousands of launches.

Shields said Nyla and Gus were able to unbuckle themselves and escape with minor injuries.

Shields and Sabrina got out and saw their sons face down in the river, but couldn't move the boat because of David's arm injuries.

They screamed for help as other rafts passed by, and he believes it took at least 10 minutes for workers to shut off the water to the ride and the boys to be freed from the water. Emergency responders on the scene began life-saving measures and CPR right away, but it took several minutes for an ambulance to arrive and transport the four most seriously injured to the hospital.

The timeline of the accident is still being investigated, according to Cook.

Doctors decided to remove Michael, a sixth-grader at Boulder Peak Intermediate School, from life support on Sunday after he showed no brain function and his organs had failed. Shields said he and other pastors held the boy's hand and sang as doctors disconnected the machine.

Shields had met Michael this summer after he volunteered for a church fundraiser cleaning a local minor league baseball stadium after games. He promised to show up for all 12 nights, and he did, cheerfully picking up trash and beer bottles.


Michael, according to Shields, was "full of smiles, laughter, and jokes," and he enjoyed small dogs, video games, and hanging out with friends.

“With a young man like Michael, the potential that has been robbed from this world is incalculable,” he said, calling him a “gem.”

According to the Polk County Medical Examiner's Office, Michael's autopsy was completed on Wednesday, but the cause and manner of death are still being investigated.


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