BLAINE, Wash. — A man was severely injured on a waterslide in Blaine on Friday, Aug. 25. Management of the Birch Bay Waterslides in a statement call last Friday’s incident an “unforeseen accident” while fire officials describe it as a life-changing injury.
North Whatcom Fire Rescue confirms that a 42-year-old man was severely injured after an accident on a waterslide, which prompted the park to close for the season a week earlier than scheduled.
Mikkel Hong, a teacher and parent who was at the park last Friday, describes a “chaotic and gruesome scene.” He said he saw a piece missing from the slide and witnessed commotion soon after.
“I noticed the lifeguard started closing down everything – and I look over and there’s a huddle around somebody over by the four slides that go down, where the slide broke – and there’s a lot of blood and a foot that was going the wrong way,” Hong said.
Neither the park nor the registered business owner returned calls for comment.
The 42-year-old man that was injured is expected to survive and records show he’s now in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in serious condition. Whatcom County records show that the last inspection of the waterslides was conducted on July 10 of this year – but they say those inspections don’t cover everything.
The Whatcom County Health Department said they regularly check recreational pools for water quality, placement of handrails and lifeguard staffing, among other safety guidelines. What they don’t inspect is the structural integrity of the rides.
That duty falls on a third party. Most recently, a report was prepared by Kingworks Structural Engineers, at the request of Birch Bay Waterslides, and was submitted to Whatcom County in July 2022. The 22-page report includes findings from visual inspections of eight slides.
Findings include everything from rusted nails to water damage on wood platforms, along with several cracked concrete supports. Many issues they recommended be fixed before the start of the 2023 season, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the park remains closed. In a statement on social media, the park attributes the early closure to a multitude of factors including the “incident," “poor air quality” and a staff shortage.
Details of what led to the accident are unclear.
A fundraising page has been set up to assist the family.