A 13-year-old Durango boy who was visiting the Xenses amusement park in Playa del Carmen with his family is dead after his leg was sucked into an exposed water filtration system on Saturday.
Authorities released information about the incident on Wednesday, the same day the boy’s father made details of the case public, accusing state authorities of attempting to protect the amusement park’s owners, Grupo Xcaret, from liability.
The father, Miguel Luna-Calvo, a cardiologist, also told news media that first responders at the park and medical personnel at the Amerimed hospital in Playa del Carmen were negligent and incompetent in treating his son.
According to Forbes México, Leonardo Luna Guerrero and his family were in a manmade river in the park, part of an aquatic attraction called “Riolajante,” when an exposed part of the filtration system pulled Leonardo in and trapped his leg.
Although efforts to free the youth were eventually successful, he was unconscious by that time and his leg had been seriously injured by the filtration system, according to Luna-Calvo, who said he gave his son emergency first aid while waiting for paramedics. The boy was then taken to a private hospital in Playa del Carmen, where a day later he died of pulmonary complications, according to his father.
Luna-Calvo has accused state authorities of trying to pressure him to sign a liability waiver releasing Grupo Xcaret from responsibility in the incident. He said state officials did not release his son’s body to the family until he signed the waiver and that he was kept waiting six hours at the Quintana Roo Attorney General’s Office to try to file a report.
In the end, he said, his son’s death certificate lists his cause of death as drowning and that it is not being investigated by authorities as a homicide.
“My son died because of negligence by the park. If we don’t make it public, this [sort of thing] is going to keep happening,” he said.
Justice officials in Quintana Roo clarified Thursday that the death is being investigated as manslaughter.
Grupo Xcaret has admitted human error in the death of the minor, according to Forbes, although the company also said that all safety protocols were immediately followed when the accident occurred. Grupo Xcaret said in a press release that unauthorized repairs had been done in the area of the accident.
“We want to express our complete desire to collaborate with the proper authorities to clarify whatever responsibility there is,” it said.
Regarding Leonardo’s medical treatment, Luna-Calvo said his own efforts to save his son were repeatedly hindered.
“While the ambulance was on its way, I gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,” he said. “Minutes later, the ambulance arrived without oxygen. The staff had no idea what first aid was. From there, we arrived at the Amerimed Hospital. My son needed a catheter, and they did not give him one. I offered myself as a cardiologist to put it in him myself — it’s my specialty; I’m an expert in that, and they did not let me.”
Luna-Calvo said he was later not allowed to pay his hospital bill, which he believes was an attempt to silence him.
The family was visiting the nature park as part of a Holy Week vacation that the boy’s father said was also a family celebration for having made it through a Covid outbreak.
On a Twitter post, Luna-Calvo said that even though he is a cardiologist, he was never vaccinated against Covid-19 and that members of the family had contracted the disease.
“My whole family was traveling as a gift to my children for their bravery,” he said.