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Missouri Boy’s Water Park Drowning Death Sparks New Law

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Southern California is the land of amusement parks. There are probably more water parks – public and private – here than in most parts of this country given our year-round good weather and constant flow of tourism. But how many of us think about liability insurance before we send our children to these places or even when we take them to visit a private water park?

This week, a Missouri state lawmaker is proposing new legislation requiring private water parks to carry at least $1 million in liability insurance, according to an article in the Insurance Journal. This after a 6-year-old boy from Joplin drowned last summer in one of the water parks, which was under the radar of state regulation. Ethan Cory’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Swimmin’ Hole, the water park, and the Boys and Girls Club of Joplin, that was supervising the children during their field trip to the park.

Ethan’s mother, Lauren Cory, is lobbying for the bill, which she hopes will protect all children and families. The family’s lawsuit also alleges that there was no adequate supervision at the water park when their son drowned. The owner of the water park simply told the magazine that getting $1 million in liability insurance would cost him $72,000 a year and that he simply couldn’t afford it. He also told reporters that he didn’t see how it could be beneficial for a businessman like him to have liability insurance.

Are you kidding me? The business owner’s cold attitude in this case just makes it crystal clear why businesses must be policed. They simply will not police themselves. When enforcement is lax, it just creates an environment for businesses to cut corners in an attempt to maximize profits. We hope for the sake of the Corys and all families with children that this bill passes and holds these private businesses accountable for their actions.

We also hope that the boy’s family gets a fair compensation for their irreparable loss and that the water park’s owner is made to pay if he had been negligent as the lawsuit alleges. For the parents, this is not about the money. The cash is not going to bring their little boy back. But if this bill becomes law and if the water park owner is held responsible, then they will have a sense of closure and some comfort that Ethan’s death led to positive change that will save hundreds of young lives in the future.

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  • L Cory

    I really enjoyed your story on this, but it happened in Missouri, not Montana. But thanks for your support!!!

  • audrey

    how can liabillity insurance save lives. you are messed up. i am a life guard and i know that saving lives start with the proper training and procedures that insure the utmost safety of all guests. no amount of insurance money can resesitate an unresponsive guest in distress, but great life guards can.

  • Lori

    This story is actually out of Joplin, Missouri, not Montana. I’m from Joplin and I’m proud to say that Ethan’s Law was signed by Gov. Blunt on June 6! Thank you for your respectful blog and insightful words. I hope more people have the chance to read your work. Thank you again!

  • Stephen

    The way I see it when I go to parks is if I get hurt because I was on a platform that fell or a ride that the wheels fell off of it would be thier fault but If Im swimming and don’t know how to or seeing how long I can hold my breath under water that would be My fault or if Im only 6 my care takers fault for not watching me. Not the Park Owner. Sure have Requirements but 72,000 a year is a lot of money for a small business owner to pay a year When the up keep of the park already is expensive. I use to own my own business so I know how expensive it is to run a business I would imagine a water park would be just as expensive or more expensive to run. People think all business owners make tons of money when infact they invest thier money for other peoples enjoyment and when someone gets hurt they get taken advantage of and ruin the fun for others.

  • Christian

    It’s this kind of thinking that is ruining our country. Fire the lifeguard and leave it at that. Or teach your kid to swim before you let him in a public pool. These selfish people who passed these laws are the sickness of our country. Now thousands of kids have no place in Joplin to go for fun,people are out of jobs,and most concerning to people like me who put lots of salt into building the place, more hearts are broken. I know the business owner and he has anything but a cold heart. All he ever talked about was how much joy this park was going to bring the kids of this city.

  • Christian

    It’s this kind of thinking that is ruining our country. Fire the lifeguard and leave it at that. Or teach your kid to swim before you let him in a public pool. These selfish people who passed these laws are the sickness of our country. Now thousands of kids have no place in Joplin to go for fun,people are out of jobs,and most concerning to people like me who put lots of salt into building the place, more hearts are broken. I know the business owner and he has anything but a cold heart. All he ever talked about was how much joy this park was going to bring the kids of this city.

  • John Bisnar

    Your statement is so right, “…no amount of insurance is going to resesitate an unresponsive guest in distress.” The insurance requirement is preemptive, it is designed to prevent the occurrence of an “unresponsive guest in distress.”

  • skyler burt

    Ummm excuse me as I’m very aware of the things that happened it is very sad , but Id like to say the owner of the swimming hole water park is my dad James m Burt he’s not cold hearted … For one the. School or place taking kids places are to send out permission slips to the parents and the parents are to look over and sign the waver for their child . so let me tell uu something we had life guards on site watching but you can’t see a child playing who can hold their breathe the longest with kids surrounding him . ya I’m tired of hearing people bad mouth my dad when it was a jabreaker laudged in his throat and it stated in the safety rules on a big yellow sine no gum , no candy, no outside food or drinks. It was boys and girls clubs problem so bug off ! My dads a great guy and. Even went to the funeral .

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