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Indiana water park’s owners apologize for children’s burns

PORTER, Ind. (AP) – A company that operates a northwestern Indiana water park authorities closed after 11 children suffered chemical burns says it’s “profoundly sorry” for the injuries and hopes to pass a county health inspection so that it can reopen in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

A weekend advertisement Provo, Utah-based Seven Peaks Resorts placed in local newspapers states that the children were burned after an equipment malfunction sent too much chlorine into the children’s slide area at Seven Peaks Waterpark, about 40 miles southeast of Chicago.

The company’s ad says it’s inspecting all of the Porter, Indiana, water park’s equipment and that its workers “sincerely apologize” to the injured children and their families.

“We are profoundly sorry for the recent and unfortunate incident that occurred at our water park location in Porter, Indiana,” the company says in the advertisement message attributed to Gary Brinton, president of Seven Peaks Resorts.

But that ad also says some media coverage of the water park’s woes is “simply untrue” and “fake news.” It doesn’t elaborate.

Seven Peaks Resorts spokeswoman Jo Penney said the company is working on a statement, expected to be released Tuesday, that will address the news reports the company considers inaccurate.

She said the Indiana water park’s general manager is ill but she spoke Monday to Porter County Health Department Administrator Keith Letta and requested a full list of the regulations the park must comply with in order to reopen.

“We are working to meet every regulation requirement on their list so that we can have the park up and operating for the Fourth of July holiday weekend,” she said.

Letta said the park won’t reopen until it passes a county compliance inspection. He said the phone call he received Monday afternoon from Penney was the first contact his office has had with the company since his office closed the water park on June 19 after the 11 children received chemical burns. A 12th child suffered an eye irritation in the park’s “kiddie pool” area. Letta attributed those injuries to overly chlorinated water.

He said two other children had their collarbones broken while on a park waterslide during the four days between the park’s season opening on June 15 and its closure by the county.

Letta added that parents told his staff the collarbone injuries occurred when park employees, for an unknown reason, grabbed inner tubes as the children were riding on a waterslide. This caused the children to be hurled against the slide’s wall, he said.

One child’s collarbone was shattered and had to be surgically repaired with a metal plate, Letta said.

“You don’t have to be a physics major to figure out if something is going by really fast and you stop it, whatever’s in it is going to go flying,” he said.

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