Civil Protection officials have closed an attraction at the Playa del Carmen amusement park Xenses where a 13-year-old Durango boy was injured on Saturday and later died after his leg was sucked into an exposed part of the attraction’s water filtration system.
Solidaridad Civil Protection officials said the attraction, a manmade “river” of heated saltwater called “Riolajante,” would remain closed while authorities investigated the incident. Playa de Carmen is located in the municipality of Solidaridad.
According to Civil Protection head Francisco Poot Kauil, park workers told his staff that a part of the filtration system in the attraction’s manmade waterways had been left without a grate after maintenance work on the system.
“In the reports, park staff informed us that it was [a case of] negligence, since one of the workers left open one of the grates,” he told the newspaper Milenio.
Grupo Xcaret, which owns the park, admitted in a press release Wednesday that “human error” during work on the attraction was a factor in the incident. It said it was cooperating fully with authorities in the investigation.
Leonardo Luna Guerrero was in the aquatic attraction with his family when his leg became caught in the system and he was pulled underwater. Although his father managed to extract him from the filter and pull him out of the water, Leonardo had lost consciousness.
His father, cardiologist Miguel Luna-Calvo, gave his son CPR and chest compressions before park medical emergency personnel arrived, he said. The boy was taken to a private hospital in Playa del Carmen, where he died on Sunday of pulmonary complications, according to Luna-Calvo.
Luna-Calvo has in the past few days accused authorities of “irregularities” in the investigation of his son’s death, saying he was told he would have to sign a legal waiver freeing the park of legal responsibility in exchange for being given immediate custody of his son’s body without an autopsy being performed.
“They warned me that I was going to have to wait 10–15 days [for his body to be turned over] because they had several cadavers [to process],” he told the newspaper Reforma on Thursday. “I was six hours in the assistant prosecutor’s office. I had to get down on my knees and cry for them to allow me to take him … I believe that I touched the heart of the attorney and she said, ‘Go then. Give the summary of the facts, and you have to sign this waiver.’ I think they didn’t want evidence to remain of what had happened.”
The Quintana Roo Attorney General’s Office told the newspaper El Universal that the legally required autopsy was waived after Luna-Calvo asked for an exemption. The office also confirmed that Luna-Calvo had signed a legal waiver, although it said that the case was nevertheless being investigated as a culpable homicide, or manslaughter.
Luna-Calvo told Reforma that the family didn’t want an autopsy performed because they didn’t want any further damage done to Leonardo’s body.
“My wife didn’t want them to touch my son’s body,” he said. “We already knew the cause of his death.”