Tragic accident highlights lack of waterslide regulations
The accident that cost a seven-year-old boy his lower legs has highlighted the lack of regulations governing waterslide-park safety in Quebec.
Safety inspections and monitoring of equipment in the parks are left entirely up to owners.
Doctors in Montreal had to amputate Alexis Auclair'slower legs after he was sucked into a pipe near the base of a waterslide at Saint-Pie Monday afternoon.
"We believe that he was completely sucked into the pipe, right up to the pumpâ¦ and that he hit the turbine," said provincial police spokesman Ronald McInnis.
"We're talking a distance of seven metres in a 20-centimetre-diameter pipe," he said.
"He was sucked up in the tube," said witness Frederik ChrÃ©tien, an employee at Le camping des glissades d'eau Saint-Pie, about 50 kilometres east of Montreal.
"When he got out, he was missing a foot and the other was attached by just a little skin."
Police say Alexis was apparently flushed back out of the pipe when the pump was shut off. They havehired an independent engineer to confirmif the pump was pulling with sufficient force to suck the youngster completely throughsuch anarrowopening.
Investigatorssay a perforated plastic cap that normally covers the open end of the pipe was found at the bottom of the pool.
Denis Arcand, the manager of the water park, said in an interview he checked Sunday evening and the cap was in place.
"That cap retains all the leaves and pieces of glass that would fall in the pool so they don't go in the pump," Arcand said.
"It's operating like that for 20 years. So an accident happened. Is it safe? They will tell us. As far as I know, we did what we have to do for that safety."
McInnis said police are now trying to determine whether the grill fell off accidentally or was removed.
Meanwhile, Alexis is facing a future with prosthetic feet.
Dr. Louise Caouette-Laberge, a plastic surgeon at Sainte-Justine hospital where the operation took place, said surgeons had no choice but to amputate the boy's legs below the knees.
"It is always a difficult decision to accept that you're not able to reconstruct. But, beyond that, the decision was not that hard because we had really no options," Caouette-Laberge said.
"Just being able to keep this child alive is fantastic," she added.
Dr. Marie-AndrÃ©e Cantin, an orthopedic surgeon, said Alexis should be able to go back to a "close to normal life" with the help of prosthetics.
With files from the Canadian Press