SANDUSKY, Ohio — Five people were injured Monday when ductwork at a Sandusky, Ohio, water park collapsed into the pool below. According to reports, metal ducts that were three feet in diameter and 20 feet long, weighing hundreds of pounds, fell from the ventilation system at the Kalahari Water Park around 1:00 p.m.
A lifeguard and at least one child suffered what appeared to be minor injuries when the massive ductwork tumbled into the kiddie pool and the wave pool below. They were transferred to an area hospital while three other guests were treated at the scene.
“The two that were transported, their injuries were not serious,” Erie County Ohio Sheriff Paul Sigsworth told reporters.
Witnesses described “chaos” and “panic” as swimmers rushed to exit the pool.
“We waited in the first slide line and I look over—actually I saw it and I saw the first air duct vent come down, ripped off its aluminum,” Austin Fleming from Cuyahoga Falls told News 5 Cleveland. “Everyone started screaming. The first one hit the lifeguard and two other pieces of it went down the wave pool and the basketball hoop.”
Another witness told WKYC, “You know, it actually felt like a terrorist attack because of how people were reacting.”
“It was a really loud noise and everyone was screaming and running,” one woman described.
A mother whose son is autistic said she barely got the boy out of the pool in time. “So I just yelled to my son ‘get out’ and I just pushed him out of the way,” she said.
Another man told reporters that he saw a lifeguard being taken away in an ambulance, wearing a neck brace. “She looked pretty hurt,” he said.
Kalahari guests took to social media to document the incident.
kalahari just broke thats not even everything that fell FROM THE CEILING 😱😨 pic.twitter.com/q1i7iNzeKK
— b (@Brooke_Seff) March 12, 2018
Sad day at Kalahari pic.twitter.com/1GK292PFIQ
— Ryan Hill (@TilburyFlyboy) March 12, 2018
— Johnathon McCandlish (@go32bengals) March 12, 2018
Kalahari said in a statement that the park’s top priority is the safety and security of its guests. “At this time, we know that three guests and two associates sustained minor injuries,” Kalahari said. “The guests declined transport and the associates were voluntarily transported for medical care and treated and released.” The park said staff members were able to identify the issue and evacuate the park immediately. “The waterpark is currently closed, as engineers, staff and officials are on site conducting an investigation to determine what caused the break.”
Kalahari said the park will re-open “when all safety regulations are not only met, but exceeded.”