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‘Screaming and panicking’ as log ride boat flips and ejects family at California park

Screengrab from KNBC video

Watching his children on a ride Saturday at a California amusement park, Robert Mahler heard “this big thud” from a nearby log-flume ride, KCAL reported.

Mahler said he looked up in time to see a log-shaped boat careen out of control around a curve, then tilt precariously, ejecting a family of three, according to the station.

“All I saw was, just, essentially, legs falling out of the boat. Cartwheels out of the boat. And down into the water,” Mahler said, KCBS reported. “Everybody was just screaming and panicking.”

The 4:45 p.m. accident at Castle Park in Riverside hurt three people, including a mom who suffered critical injuries and one child, KNBC reported.

The accident apparently took place when a pump malfunctioned, leaving insufficient water in the water-filled log-flume track to slow the speeding boat as it plunged downward, said Capt. Brian Guzzetta of the Riverside Fire Department, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and never seen this happen,” said Omar Ramirez, KABC reported.

The log-flume ride was closed while the rest of the park remained open, according to the station.

“First and foremost — our thoughts and prayers are with the guests involved,” park officials said in a statement, KNBC reported. “Safety is our number one priority and we have begun conducting a full investigation.”

Castle Park features four miniature golf courses and 35 rides on 25 acres, according to its website.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.