Investigators Trace Fall of Prop Helicopter Into Pool

Wire rope was damaged, officials say, as water park reopens
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2023 9:15 AM CST
Updated Feb 25, 2023 3:35 PM CST
One Minute, Fun at the Water Park. The Next, 'Mass Panic'
Giant waterslides are seen inside the DreamWorks Water Park at the American Dream Mall on Oct. 1, 2020, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
UPDATE Feb 25, 2023 3:35 PM CST

New Jersey investigators say a damaged wire rope was behind the plunge of a decorative helicopter into a swimming pool last weekend at a water park, which the state allowed to reopen Saturday. A spokeswoman for the state agency that oversees the park said the wire rope "used to suspend the helicopter was a direct contributing factor," the AP reports. The prop has been permanently removed. The agency, which investigated the accident with the help of an engineering firm, has declared other attractions at DreamWorks Water Park to be safe, officials said.

Feb 21, 2023 9:15 AM CST

A fun afternoon at the water park inside New Jersey's American Dream Mall turned terrifying over the weekend when a decorative prop shaped like a helicopter plummeted from the ceiling and into a pool below. New Jersey State Police say they responded to a call from the DreamWorks Water Park in East Rutherford a little after 3pm Sunday after the prop apparently detached from whatever was holding it up in the air and fell, reports NBC News. "It was a big boom—'boom, boom,' twice," one witness there with her 9-year-old son tells CBS New York, adding that "mass panic" ensued afterward. The outlet notes that the prop fell in a shallow-water area where younger children gather.

Four people were injured, per police, though only one badly enough to be taken to the hospital. The other three visitors were treated for minor injuries at the scene. The hospitalized guest was said to have non-life-threatening injuries. Per News 12, the mall posted on Twitter that the water park would temporarily be shut down—at first, just for the rest of the day Sunday and into Monday, and then updated to also include Tuesday and Wednesday. Those who'd already purchased tickets for those days were advised to check their emails for more information. (More freak accident stories.)

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