Evha Jannath was bumped over the side of Splash Canyon and ‘dragged under the water by the current’ during a school trip in 2017
An 11-year-old pupil drowned on a school trip to a theme park after she was flung from a boat without any teachers in it, an inquest heard today.
Evha Jannath was playing a game with her friends to see ‘who could get the wettest’ on the Splash rapids ride at Drayton Manor Park on May 9 2017.
They were seen standing up on multiple occasions, against the rules of the ride, which they went on as part of a trip organised for pupils with ‘good behaviour’.
One of the teachers on the trip, Aaminah Rasid Isat, told her inquest Evha and four friends had asked to go on the ride by themselves.
She said the girls had already been on the ride earlier in the day and their behaviour had been ‘responsible enough’ for them to be allowed to go again on their own.
The teacher at Jameah Girls Academy in Leicester told the hearing: ‘Seeing their behaviour previously on the other rides, we came to a decision they were responsible enough and having been on it once before, they were safe to go on the ride on their own.’
The inquest, which is being held before a jury at Stafford Coroners Court, was also told that three teachers went in one boat together, while nine pupils in two separate boats went unaccompanied.
Headteacher of Jameah Girls Academy, Erfana Bora, added that the teacher acted in line with the school’s health and safety policy on the day.
She said: ‘We can’t stipulate teachers must be on rides, as there will be instances where some children would not wish to be on the ride, and so in those cases it’s safer overall for the teacher to stay with that child… they make the assumption the park staff are responsible for overall safety on that ride.’
The coroner heard how Evha was ‘propelled’ head first into the water after it crashed into a barrier.
She was seen wading through the water on CCTV at thigh-level, before trying to climb up a moving travelator.
But tragically it was covered in algae and she slipped, falling 12ft into much deeper water and vanishing.
Aerial view of the Splash Canyon attraction at a deserted Drayton Manor theme park near Tamworth, Staffordshire, following the incident
Staff at the theme park spot little Evha, from Leicester, for 11 minutes after they were alerted to the incident, the hearing was told.
It took them a further six minutes to finally retrieve her from the waves, the inquest heard.
One of her teachers tried to rescue the Year 6 pupil as friends cried out ‘she’s in the water’ but could not get over the barriers in time.
Evha was airlifted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital after being found floating face down by park staff but was pronounced dead on arrival.
A post-mortem examination originally revealed died as a result of blunt force trauma to the chest but forensic pathologists have since concluded she had drowned.
She suffered a number of external and internal injuries, including a broken pelvis and organ damage to her heart and lungs.
The inquest at Stafford’s County Buildings was told by Detective Inspector John Quilty, of Staffordshire Police, how Evha – who was unable to swim – initially fell into water up to her thighs.
Erfana Bora (second from left), headteacher at the Jameah Girls Academy in Leicester, arriving at the inquest today
Appearing uninjured, she was then shown on CCTV wading along the edge of the ride route, towards the exit platform, trying to get back to her friends.
Her schoolmates were shouting back towards Evha while another member of the public stood at the ride course’s barrier a few feet above told her to ‘stop’ where she was.
The youngster, who was still in the water, carried on wading and then attempted to climb the ride’s ‘travelator’ which lifts the ride vessels up out of the water, to an exit platform.
But as she climbed the ‘algae-covered’ wooden planks on the mechanism, she fell off the side into a ‘much deeper’ area of water at the park in Tamworth, Staffordshire.
After pupils and members of the public raised the alarm, theme park staff rushed to the ride and began a search.
Erfana Bora, headteacher at the Jameah Girls Academy, arriving at the inquest today
Some 11 minutes after staff were alerted to Evha originally going into the water, Evha was spotted ‘face down’.
It was another six minutes before theme park staff were able to pull her out, when she was described as ‘lifeless’.
Despite CPR being administered at the scene and advanced life support by air ambulance medics, she was pronounced dead less that two hours later at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The hearing was told that according to the theme park’s ride height restrictions, Evha was allowed aboard the vessel without an adult.
Detective Inspector John Quilty told the jury today that Evha fell in the water ‘at the worst possible time’.
As jurors watched CCTV, Det Insp Quilty said: ‘We know children act in different ways and you will see, sadly, that not just Evha but other children did not adhere to the rules of the ride. At no point do we see her sat on the ride.’
It was Evha’s second time on the ride, which is described as a ‘low to minimum’ thrill ride and had been at the park since 1993.
Det Insp Quilty added: ‘One child stated they were all moving around the vessel during the ride. They were reaching out, putting their hands in the water during the ride.
‘Another said they were talking about who could get the wettest and putting their hands in the water.’
‘The girls including Evha finished their first ride safely. They wanted to go on the ride without the teacher present.
‘Not just Evha but a number of pupils did not obey the rules of the ride.
Evha’s brother Muhammed Islam, left, arriving at the inquest into her death today
‘Evha was not sat on the seat. She was sat on the steps and at various points was standing up.
‘When the vessel hit the barrier she was propelled out of the vessel.
‘At the worst possible time she falls out and is propelled out of the vessel causing an impact on the wooden barrier.’
The hearing was told that according to the theme park’s ride height restrictions, Evha was allowed aboard the vessel without an adult.
A signed risk assessment prepared by the school before the trip said that a member of staff would be ‘allocated’ to groups of five or six primary age pupils, like Evha, while the older secondary age pupils could supervise themselves.
Mr Quilty said: ‘The member of staff allocated to Evha and her group remained at exit and did not join her group, and her intention was to meet children as they came off exit.’
A member of the theme park ride staff said he observed the ‘good behaviour’ of Evha and her friends boarding their vessel.
But CCTV showed that as soon as the ride began, Evha and some of the other girls were leaving their seats and not keeping hold of the safety rail.
Mr Quilty, who led an investigation into the incident, said: ‘At no point do we actually see her sat (in her seat) on the ride.’
Describing the moment the youngster was ejected from the vessel, he said: ‘Evha is sat out of the seats, in the gap (between the seats).
‘She is sat down at this point in time, and when the boat makes contact (with the barrier) – at the worst possible time – she stands up and, as a result of the propulsion and force of the barrier, that propels her out of the vessel.
‘She is just standing up, and as soon as she makes contact with the barrier she is pushed out, there’s nothing behind her and she naturally falls out.’
Dr Frances Hollingbury, a Home Office pathologist, said she had determined a cause of death of drowning, although it was initially recorded as a result of blunt force trauma to the chest.
Evha, 11, died after being airlifted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital from Drayton Manor theme park on May 9, 2017. Pictured, the Splash Canyon Ride
She added that although Evha suffered multiple rib fractures, possible injuries to the lungs and a broken pelvis, she ‘wouldn’t have expected Evha to have died as a direct result of these injuries, without complications’.
It was announced last month that the theme park would face a charge under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Her parents Suable and Nuran Jannath, had recently moved to the area from Hertfordshire.
In a statement the day after their daughter’s death, they said: ‘Our world was torn apart by the news that our daughter and sister Evha, had lost her life in tragic circumstances, following a school trip to Drayton Manor Park.
‘Evha was a beautiful little girl who was full of love and always smiling. Words cannot describe the pain and loss we feel, we are devastated that we will not see our beautiful little girl again’.
The inquest, which is due to last two weeks, continues.