Over 100 people were treated Saturday afternoon after a chemical leak at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown in Spring, according to local officials. Investigators believe the leak was some sort of mixture of bleach and sulfuric acid.
According to Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, 31 people were taken to the hospital while 55 refused transport. Officials said those affected were decontaminated before being allowed to leave the park.
As of Sunday morning, all 28 patients treated by the Memorial Hermann medical system had been discharged in good condition, according to a representative.
In a statement Sunday, a Splashtown representative said the park will remain closed Sunday and Monday as an investigation into Saturday’s incident continues.
The representative said preliminary findings indicate there was a vapor release in a small outdoor section of the park that quickly dissipated.
“We are working hand in hand with Harris County Public Health officials, along with third party industry experts, to determine a cause, and we will reopen when we are confident it is safe to do so,” the representative said in a statement. “It is our understanding that all impacted guests and team members have been released and are back home. The safety of our guests and employees is always our top priority.”
Final numbers from the incident command: A total of 31 people have been transported from Six Flags Hurricane Harbor to area hospitals. 55 people refused ambulance transport after decontamination by Spring Firefighters.— Spring Fire Department (@Springfdtx) July 18, 2021
Fire crews responded to Splashtown around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. According to investigators, the incident started in the kiddie pool area when a lifeguard became sick. Shortly after, more people became sick including children.
Officials said most people experienced minor skin and inhalation irritation. A 3-year-old child was rushed to the hospital but is in stable condition. A woman went into labor during the evaluation and is doing fine.
Investigators said the system that controls the chemicals at the water park did not have any alarms or readings set off.
HCFMO hazmat is investigating to identify the cause of the incident and to verify the chemicals involved. They said they took water and air samples and that the levels appear to be normal at this time. Officials will continue to monitor the air and water quality.
County Judge Lina Hildago has ordered the park to close down until further investigation. Officials said Six Flags is cooperating.
The Fire Marshal’s Office said the last time Splashtown had an inspection was June 2021.
Splashtown released the following statement 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.”
A day went bad
Steven Morris and his 9-year-old daughter Lia are among the more than 30 people who were rushed to a local hospital following the leak at Splashtown.
“I thought it was a terrorist attack it felt like we got gassed,” said Steven Morris.
He said he knew something was wrong when his daughter began crying and vomiting. Doctors and nurses said her oxygen levels were low.
“I just started coughing and then my eyes swelled up,” said Lia Morris.
Another father said he smelled a harsh smell and quickly realized something was wrong.
“You don’t plan your day around something like this you know… stuff happens but you never expect something like this you know,” Hunter said.
He shared videos that show the chaotic scene following a chemical leak at Splashtown.
“You see the videos of the people rioting it’s almost like that man. People running everywhere it’s chaotic,” Hunter said. “I talked to some lifeguards that are here from Splashtown and they informed me that the chemicals were mixed wrong.”
Hunter said he is concerned for his son and potential long-term effects.
“My son, he’s still in the hospital right now. They are monitoring him for six hours. I think the main thing we are worried about is the long-term effects.”
The father said this was not the day he was expecting.
“You started the day trying to make memories at Splashtown and now you end up here at the emergency room,” he said. “It’s very traumatic, man. My heart goes out to all the families out there and all the kids. It couldn’t happen in the worst spot.”
Here is the full press conference from local officials:
Rosie Shepard of Hurricane Harbor Splashtown released the following statement:
“At approximately 2:30 this afternoon, a small number of guests in a section of the park reported feeling ill with respiratory irritation. The safety of our guests and team member is always our highest priority and the park was immediately cleared as we try to determine a cause. Out of an abundance of caution, the park has been closed for the day.”
Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center released the following statement:
“Related to a reported chemical spill in the Spring area yesterday, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center received a total of 21 patients, and Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center received a total of seven patients. All 28 patients have been discharged in good condition.”
Harris County Public Health released the following statement:
“Our investigation is ongoing and the park will remain closed Tuesday. We are working closely with Splashtown and multiple county agencies to ensure the park is safe for the public prior to re-opening.”
Check back for updates.