Water park to stay closed this week ‘out of respect’ after girl’s death

Ted Hennessey and Claudia Rowan, PA

Tue, 9 August 2022 at 12:17 pm

A water park where an 11-year-old girl died is to remain closed for the rest of the week “out of respect” for her family.

Emergency services were called to Liquid Leisure, near Datchet in Berkshire, at 3.55pm on Saturday after the youngster was reported missing.

She was found just after 5.10pm and rushed to Wexham Park Hospital, where she died.

Staff had said the aqua assault course would reopen on Tuesday morning, but plans were altered and it will now stay shut until next week.

Liquid Leisure said: “We have decided to remain closed for the remainder of the week out of respect for all the families involved.”

Liquid Leisure death
The girl died on Saturday (Jonathan Brady/PA)

It comes after Windsor and Maidenhead Council said it had issued the business with an enforcement notice in December 2020 after it expanded the site without planning permission.

A spokesman said: “Regarding Liquid Leisure, the council issued an enforcement notice in December 2020 because the council consider that a material change of use had occurred without planning permission – from water-skiing and windsurfing use to mixed use that comprises an aqua theme park, caravan and camping site, party venue and a child’s play centre, facilitated by extensive unauthorised works in the Green Belt, a flood zone and local wildlife site.

“We’ve previously invited Liquid Leisure to regularise their position by making a planning application for a reduced-scale enterprise which would reduce the harm that has been identified; however, the business is appealing against our enforcement notice.”

A public inquiry into the matter is to begin on November 8.

Flowers and messages were seen outside Liquid Leisure’s closed gates on Tuesday as tributes poured in following the girl’s death.

Liquid Leisure death
Tributes were placed at the gates of Liquid Leisure (Andrew Matthews/PA)

One read: “To a beautiful little girl. I hope you know how hard everyone tried to save you.

“You were just too beautiful for this world. You will always be the brightest star in the night sky forever 11″.

Another said: “RIP little angel, lots of love the Morgans xx.”

A 41-year-old woman from South Buckinghamshire, who did not want to be named, was at the “busy” water park with her teenage daughter on Saturday, having been several times before.

She said the situation was “an absolute tragedy” for the family and friends of the girl, while she and others at the park felt “shock” and “helplessness” at the scene.

She said some people were not wearing life jackets and that lifeguards were not paying attention.

Liquid Leisure death
Parents have criticised staff after the incident (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The woman told the PA news agency: “We then realised a child was missing as two frantic women ran past screaming the child’s name.

“There seemed to be no plan of action with the LL staff. A few lifeguards jumped into the water and started searching in what appeared to be a very non-methodical way.

“Another member of staff started asking other members of staff if they were lifeguard-trained. No-one appeared to be in charge and there was no co-ordination in managing the situation.

“For the adults and children left on the riverside, we didn’t know what to do, there was no communication and no evacuation procedure.

“There is one small entrance and exit at LL and the emergency services arrived quickly and in huge numbers, they couldn’t have done more.

“But because we weren’t told what to do and didn’t want to block their efforts of coming into the park, we just stood by and witnessed the search and rescue divers looking in the water.

“Afterwards my daughter commented that she didn’t feel safe on the inflatable – there were areas which had deflated and gaps between obstacles which anyone could have easily slipped down, leaving them underneath the inflatable.”

The girl’s death is being treated as unexplained and an investigation has been launched, Thames Valley Police said.

Although formal identification has yet to take place, the girl’s next of kin have been informed and they are being offered support by officers.

A Liquid Leisure statement said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and all those effected by this desperately tragic and upsetting incident.

“As Thames Valley Police are in the early stages of investigation, it would not be right for us to add further comment, but we will continue to fully support and assist them throughout the process.”

The attraction’s website says: “Liquid Leisure is home to Europe’s largest aqua park and the first official Ninja Warrior UK aqua park, set on one of the most beautiful private freshwater lakes amongst stunning parkland in the heart of Berkshire.”

Emergency services, including Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and South Central Ambulance Service, were at the scene on Saturday afternoon.

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