A giant helicopter prop hanging from the ceiling above a water park crashed into the wading pool below, injuring four people.
Visitors described how screams and panic erupted as parents tried to get their children to safety at the largest indoor water park in North America.
One of the injured was hospitalized after Sunday’s crash at DreamWorks Water Park in the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The age of those who were injured has not yet been released by the authorities, and it is unclear what the decorative helicopter was made of and how heavy it was.
The helicopter broke free from its moorings and plunged into the water around 3pm local time, when the park was filled with families enjoying the weekend. Witnesses described the “chaos” that erupted after the crash and shared photos of the scene.
One visitor tweeted: “Scary weather at Dreamworks Water Park at American Dream Mall! A large helicopter display fell on a kiddie pool and slide area! Soon after chaos. The sound was scary, then screams from parents and kids. We were told to evacuate soon after. I hope no one was hurt. If so, miracle!”
The Dreamworks water park attraction at American Dream, a shopping and entertainment complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. A giant helicopter prop hanging from the ceiling above a water park crashed into the wading pool below, injuring four people. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images
Footage shared online by reporter Nick Meidanis, which appears to have been filmed soon after, showed dozens of people gathered by the water. A man calls from across the venue, apparently trying to alert a friend or relative of her whereabouts, while a woman can be seen in the background staring at the crashed helicopter with her head in her hands. Two people who appear to be staff members or lifeguards run past.
Meidanis tweeted, “#Breaking: Four people were injured today at DreamWorks Waterpark at the American Dream mall when a helicopter propeller hanging from the ceiling fell into the pool, NJ State Police said. One person is in hospital and three were treated at the mall for minor injuries.
#Break: Four people were injured today at DreamWorks Waterpark at the American Dream mall when a helicopter propeller hanging from the ceiling fell into the pool, NJ state police said. One person is in hospital and three have been treated at the mall for minor injuries. https://t.co/xKvdLZgX0v
— Nick Meidanis (@NickMeidanis) February 19, 2023
A spokesperson for the mall told local NBC News 4 that several guests sustained minor injuries, adding, “First responders immediately provided first aid to four guests with non-life-threatening injuries.”
Three of the guests were treated on the spot and left the park without needing further medical intervention, while the fourth was taken to hospital, the official added.
Mall bosses vowed to investigate the incident to establish how the propeller managed to break free. The review “will ensure that the park meets all safety standards as required,” the spokesman said.
The rest of the park’s visitors were evacuated on Sunday and the park remained closed for the rest of the day. It is unclear how long the investigation will take and when the park is likely to open.
Newsweek reached out to the mall for more information and comments.
Owners American Dream tweeted a brief statement saying, “DreamWorks Water Park will be closed Sunday February 19th and Monday February 20th. All guests who purchased tickets for tomorrow [Monday], check your email for more information. Please visit our website for more updates.” He did not provide the reason for the park closure.
The website also simply stated that the park was closed on Sundays and Mondays.
The incident comes just months after the death of a young girl during a suspected drowning accident at a popular Midwestern water park. The boy, whose age has not been released, swam at Oceans of Fun, a water park in Kansas City, Missouri, last July.
That same month, a 32-year-old man was killed when a 43-foot sinkhole opened at the bottom of a pool in Israel. Shocking footage from the freak incident showed how the hole sucked him in, along with all the water and floats, as his friends screamed.
Water safety has been a hot topic online recently after a mom was slammed into a parenting forum for revealing she felt comfortable letting her four-year-old play in the pool unattended.