Official blames bad hearts for kids' deaths at Disney
Two children who died after visiting Disney attractions during the summer suffered heart conditions, autopsies released Tuesday showed.
Daudi Bamuwamye, a 4-year-old boy who died in June after riding "Mission: Space" at Disney's Epcot theme park, suffered from cardiac arrhythmia due to heart disease, the report said..
Similarly, the medical examiner found a 12-year-old girl who collapsed at a Disney water park and later died succumbed to irregular heartbeats linked to natural causes.
The girl, Jerra Kirby of Newport News, Va., collapsed at Typhoon Lagoon water park in August and died from arrhythmia caused by an early-stage viral heart infection, medical officials determined.
Dr. Jan Garavaglia, the chief medical examiner of Orange County, said Daudi had an abnormality of the heart muscle, a predisposed condition that could put him at risk during any stressful activity throughout his life. Garavaglia said the condition appeared to be congenital -- existing from birth.
"People with this condition are at risk for sudden death throughout their life due to abnormal electrical heart rhythms," Garavaglia wrote. "This risk could be increased under physical or emotional stressful situations. This condition may also eventually lead to heart failure."
On June 13, Daudi was aboard the ride "Mission: Space" with his mother, Agnes, and his sister when he lost consciousness. He was carried from the ride, and died at Celebration Hospital.
At that time, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said the boy met the 44-inch height requirement for the ride at the Epcot theme park.
Walt Disney World officials issued a statement Tuesday that read: "Our sympathies are with the families during this difficult time. In regard to the reports, we believe they speak for themselves."
"Mission: Space" uses a centrifuge to simulate a rocket launch. Shortly after the attraction opened in 2003, Walt Disney World officials installed motion-sickness bags because of the intensity of the ride.
There have been other injury reports associated with the ride, including some who have been treated for chest pain after riding "Mission: Space."
"There have been a lot of studies made on injuries, particularly due to G-forces," said Harold Hudson, a former theme-park engineer and president of All About Parks, Rides and Attractions, a Southlake, Texas, consulting company.
"Every study concluded the G-force in theme-park rides is not high enough to do damage in healthy people," he said. "That doesn't mean, if you have an aneurysm, it may not burst. It may have burst in the grocery-store parking lot. The conclusion is the G-force in a ride like that is not high enough to do damage, unless there's a pre-existing condition."
Dr. Heidar Heshmati, director of Brevard County Health Department, said the condition Daudi had did not make it conducive to ride theme-park attractions.
"It's a deficiency in the heart muscle," Heshmati said. "When you have a problem with the muscle of the heart, during stress and overactivity, the heart is starting to speed up. If the heart muscle is not in good shape, it will fail."
The $100 million Epcot space ride, one of Disney World's most popular, was closed after Daudi's death, but reopened after company engineers concluded it was operating normally. It spins riders in a centrifuge that subjects them to twice the normal force of gravity.
Warning signs at the attraction caution riders with heart ailments.
Typhoon Lagoon was open the day after Jerra's death because park officials determined nothing was wrong with the wave-simulation pool near where she collapsed.
Robert Samartin, a Tampa-based lawyer who represents Daudi's parents, said the family would have no specific comment until it had more time to review the report.
"Mr. and Mrs. Bamuwamye and their daughter, Ruthie, remain crushed by this devastating loss. They would like to thank everyone for their continued thoughts and prayers," Samartin said in a statement.
No additional information or contact telephone number was available for Kirby's family.
Florida regulates the safety of carnivals and fairs, but there is no state law that requires inspections by state officials of major theme parks.
In Florida, the big, fixed parks like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal have an agreement with Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that enables the parks to police themselves, but report accident and deaths at the parks and also hold annual inspection meetings.
Source : Florida Today