Center Parcs: Investigation after children hurt by raft flip

By Alice Evans
BBC News

  • Published
Longleat Forest Subtropical Swimming ParadiseImage source, Center Parcs
Image caption,
The raft flipped on the Tropical Cyclone ride in the "Subtropical Swimming Paradise" part of the holiday village

A Center Parcs ride is the focus of an investigation after a raft flipped over, injuring a man and two children.

The man and his nephew, 12, and niece, 13, were hurt on the Tropical Cyclone ride at the holiday firm's site in Longleat, Wiltshire, on 19 August.

The man was taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs, while both children suffered minor head injuries.

Center Parcs apologised for the upset caused but said it was "simply an unfortunate accident".

There have been 23 reports of rafts overturning on the Tropical Cyclone in the last six months, across the four Center Parcs villages that have the ride - Longleat Forest, Elveden Forest, Sherwood Forest and Woburn Forest - according to Center Parcs figures.

One of the incidents led to someone needing hospital treatment, a Center Parcs spokesman said.

'Into thin air'

Incidents of rafts overturning were "extremely rare" and more than 340,000 rafts have travelled safely down the course in the last six months, the spokesman said.

Wiltshire Council said a health and safety officer was investigating the incident at Longleat.

The customer, who wished to remain anonymous, said he and his family had all been on the ride "countless" times before but this time, rather than slowing down towards the end of the 142m-course, "we maintained our speed and were quite high up on the side".

The BBC has seen CCTV footage of the incident.

"We went into thin air and that's why we flipped," the customer said.

"The thing that I really remember was the cracking sound of my ribs hitting the side of the flume," he added.

Paramedics attended and took the man to hospital. He says he still has pain in his ribs and back.

The customer said his niece had an "impressive bump just above her right eye, bruising along the right side of her chin and a headache" for about a week after the incident, while his nephew had a headache for the rest of the day.

Image source, Center Parcs
Image caption,
Center Parcs Longleat Forest takes up a 400-acre site of the Longleat estate

Center Parcs confirmed all three passengers sustained minor injuries.

Following the incident, staff closed the ride and conducted safety checks. A spokesman said Center Parcs was confident there were "no issues" with the ride and staff had correctly loaded the raft.

He said signs at the entrance and at the top of the Tropical Cyclone ride made it clear to guests that the course was "thrilling" and "fast-paced" - and that safety briefings are also given by lifeguards before guests begin the ride.

The ride was fully certified, covered by a risk assessment and control measures were in place to mitigate risks, Center Parcs said.

But the customer said Center Parcs had shown a "complete lack of responsibility" in failing to explain why the raft had overturned.

He said he felt "every family that rides the Tropical Cyclone is at a potential risk of their raft overturning".

'As safe as possible'

Center Parcs said it takes the safety of its guests "extremely seriously" and carries out rigorous checks to ensure all rides are "as safe as possible".

Wiltshire Council has launched an investigation and a spokesman told the BBC: "We are working closely with Center Parcs, and other partners, to determine the best practice moving forward."

Tropical Cyclone opened at the Longleat holiday village in 2017.

The ride is described on the Center Parcs website as "one of the most exciting rides" in the park with a 142m-course of "twists, turns and gravity-defying drops".

Last year the holiday firm was fined £250,000 for health and safety breaches after a girl broke her wrist falling from a tree at their holiday village in Woburn, Bedfordshire.

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