Daily Archives: July 21, 2006

Caribbean Splash Designers On A Bad Day – 1 Dead, 34 Injured

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35 Students Plunged Three Stories In Waterslide Structural Collapse

The engineering firm hired to design and build the Caribbean Splash Water Park in Barbados was asked by the City of Concord, California, for a letter of indemnification two years before the structural collapse of a “Whitewater West Industries Ltd.” waterslide killed a 17 year-old girl and seriously injured 34 of her classmates.

In a San Jose Mercury News article published shortly after the June 2, 1997 tragedy, the spokesperson for Whitewater West Industries Ltd., Andrew Mowett, replied “No Comment” when asked about the letter of indemnification and the fatal collapse.

Engineer Raised Alarm 2 Years Earlier – Was Ignored, Then Fired!

The newspaper reported highly unusual circumstances about the construction and opening of the waterpark two years earlier. A City of Concord engineer who had complained about structural weakness in the waterslide design was fired when he continued to submit reports on his findings. Engineer Nick Theophanous had written about the poor stability and design of various structures throughout the waterpark – not just the deadly waterslide – but approvals were given anyway. He was overruled and then fired.

Charges Of Political Pressure To “Push The Project Through Quickly”

In a June 14, 1997 Times article, city official Jack Aiello charged that political pressure had been brought to bear to “push the project through quickly”.

Whitewater West Industries Ltd. later settled a lawsuit brought by family of the dead girl…

(Saturday, May 13, 2000) – Attorneys for the family of 17-year-old Quimby Ghilotti, who was killed in the 1997 Banzai Pipeline water slide collapse at WaterWorld USA theme park in Concord, California, have reached a $1.7 million settlement with Premier Parks, the park’s parent company; Whitewater West Industries, the ride’s designer and manufacturer; and the Napa Unified School District. (Link here)

Public Hearings Exposed Industry Problems, Lack of Standards

The waterpark and waterslide designers found that the slide had been overloaded (4X designed load) by a large number of students who had deliberately “clogged” the slide by stopping part way down. Some other engineers and manufacturers claimed that the failure should not have happened regardless of the circumstances.

During the post-accident rebuilding of the waterslide, modifications were done to give additional strength – but the US Consumer Product Safety Commission Report below indicates that the City of Concord did not allow the accident investigator to copy the Whitewater West Industries Ltd. engineering drawings due to “copyright” issues. (!)

A public enquiry and news articles spoke to the lack of standards for waterpark design, construction, operation, inspection and safety.

Sources For This Article

US Consumer Product Safety Commission Report 970603CWE5001 Waterslide Collapse

FOI Request S712143

Adobe PDF File: Freedom Of Information Request – Part 1

Adobe PDF File: Freedom Of Information Request – Part 2

Whitewater West Industries Website

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business, Environment, Island Life, Offshore Investments, Politics & Corruption, Traveling and Tourism

Mottley, Castro, Chavez All Agree – Citizen Free-Speech Must Be Stopped

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Deputy PM’s Comments Reveal Distain For Citizens & A Firm Belief in Her Own Elite Status

When Barbados Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley called for the regulation of internet blogs and call-in shows to prevent citizens from speaking freely to each other in public forums, she was not the first elected official to display both a distain for citizens’ rights and a sure belief of her own elite status.

Miss Mottley appears to have forgotten, if she ever knew, what it is to be a citizen of Barbados – as opposed to enjoying a privileged lifestyle as one of the ruling elites.

She travels around the world – Asia, Europe, all expenses paid – and she sure doesn’t travel coach. No cheap motels for Mia Mottley! And, no – the Deputy PM doesn’t spend much jet time squeezed into Row 35 between the screaming 4 year old and the fat lady who hasn’t bathed in a week.

A Nice Wide Seat

Nope – Mia travels up front with a nice wide seat, pleasant music, real china and a curtain to separate her from the ordinary folk in the back of the bus – er, airplane. Been that way for years – well over a decade.

So it is no wonder that during the past ten years the Deputy Prime Minister has forgotten her tongue occasionally and has said and done whatever she desires without worrying too much about what the peasants at the Oistins fish market might grumble to each other…

… except that things have changed in the last decade.

Now the peasants at the Oistins fish market have call-in radio shows and web pages. They might still smell of fish, but darn it – they are talking to each other on the radio and writing blogs and researching on the internet ’bout all sorts of political things…

…Political things and other subjects that only the privileged few can really understand. People like Mia herself, of course… the Wise, the Elite… who know what is best for their country and their constituents.

And so the lawmaker proposes a law – regulations – to stop those bothersome citizens from asking those bothersome questions and making those bothersome observations in public forums. (They are sometimes incorrect! They need researchers! Can’t let them bloody-well say anything they want to! Regulate them!)

Do Not Ignore The Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados

There is a tendency to write off Miss Mottley’s statements as hyperbole – just an exaggeration. Indeed, her supporters are rushing in at the BLP Blog to proclaim that very point. (Oh the irony!)

Mia Mottley is the Deputy Prime Minister of a sovereign nation. Her political party has an overwhelming majority, a full war-chest and for twelve years has been able to utilize all the public resources enjoyed by any long term government.

Many (but certainly not all) in the Government of Barbados exhibit a sense of entitlement, privilege and pure greed that comes from forgetting why they entered public service in the first place. The PM has even cautioned his members against what he sees some of them getting up to.

And now Miss Mottley’s political party is supporting her call for curtailment of free speech on the BLP Blog (link here) and in the newspapers (link here).

With the statements by the Deputy Prime Minister and the public support by her political party, the intent of the Government of Barbados has been clearly shown.

No excuses – fair warning has been given. The government would like to regulate blogs and call-in shows.

Will Bajans Allow This?

Previous BFP articles…

Barbados Deputy Prime Minister Says Internet Blogs “Marginalize…Parliament…”

Attempted Libel Chill – Barbados Free Press Will Not Be Intimidated

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Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption