SPRING, Texas (KTRK) — Two days after a chemical leak in a pool at Splashtown, a woman said she is still having trouble breathing and worries about the long-term effects of the exposure.
“My lungs are real tight, they are squeezing me,” Araceli Patino told ABC13 while holding back tears.
Araceli and her family went to Hurricane Harbor Splashtown to escape the heat on Saturday afternoon. Instead, they unknowingly ran into danger.
“I got to the parking lot, got dizzy and they rushed me to the hospital,” Araceli said.
Her son, Jose Patino, who was nearby, is no stranger to the water park either.
He was a lifeguard at Splashtown back in 2014, and even earned a service rock star pin for his work. He’s now on the parks committee of Six Flags, the parent company of Splashtown.
It’s a role, though, that he plans to step away from.
“I love the park and I’m close with the operational manager,” Jose said. “They know me by name, I know the security, lifeguards, everything. But I’m not happy with how they handled this.”
Investigators believe it was a mixture of bleach and sulfuric acid.
Instead of worrying about everyone’s safety, Jose claims employees were giving out complimentary tickets.
“They were obstructing exits giving out tickets, when they could have evacuated everyone and worried about that later,” Jose said.
Now, the Patinos want to cut ties with the park that’s become a family tradition. They are planning to pursue legal action and want to see Splashtown close for good.
“I don’t want anyone else to go through this,” Araceli said. “It’s painful. I’m stressed. I just want to feel like myself.”
According to the Harris County Fire Marshal’s office, the park will not reopen until the investigation is completed by the Harris County Public Health and HCFMO Hazardous Materials Division. All systems brought back online must also be in compliance with national standards, according to the spokesperson.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit has emerged in the wake of the Splashtown incident. Houston resident Amanda Regulus is filing a suit against the waterpark, claiming the chemical exposure injured her three daughters who are all under the age of 13.
“They began developing headaches, skin irritations, and sore throats,” Potts Law Firm, Regulus’ representation, said on Monday. “Despite the dangerous conditions, the family was not immediately evacuated by the park. Ms. Regulus says park employees asked her and other guests to join a promotional contest before exiting.”
The waterpark released the following incident regarding the incident:
The safety of our guests and team members is always our highest priority. Our team, along with third-party experts, has identified the cause of Saturday’s vapor release, and we are putting solutions in place to avoid a recurrence. We will provide additional information once we are ready to safely resume operations.