Posted: Feb 28, 2014 9:45 PM by Brittany Weiss
Updated: Feb 28, 2014 9:45 PM
DENHAM SPRINGS - Rep. J. Rogers Pope has drafted a House Bill to regulate water parks in Louisiana. The bill comes months after a 14-year-old boy drowned at Cajun Lagoon water park in Livingston Parish.
Nick Kissner died when he went under water and never resurfaced. Lifeguards and members of his church group searched for 20 minutes until they found him.
"It was so dark, they were wading through the water looking for him," said Nick's dad, John Kissner. "That's how they found him."
Cajun Lagoon is a man-made water park with inflatables, anchored to the ground. The water at this park comes from a natural source. Swimmers have said the water is murky and it's nearly impossible to see the bottom.
"Nobody could see anything," said Kissner.
After the drowning, witnesses questioned whether there should have been more lifeguards, or more regulations to ensure safety in the park.
The WBRZ News 2 Investigative Unit uncovered the park was not at fault because there is no regulation in Louisiana.
So, Rep. Rogers is aiming to fix the regulation issues. He calls the handful of Louisiana parks with inflatables like Cajun Lagoon, a safety issue.
"There should be an oversight, to make sure that these people have safety factors involved," said Rogers.
The House Bill requires owners or operators of certain water parks to provide safety information, and safety barriers around the bottom perimeter of inflatables. Each park operating in Louisiana would also be required to conduct a water quality test and filter the water, so people can see the bottom.
It does not regulate the number of lifeguards on watch.
"There are life guard standards," said Rogers. "The life guards were there [at the time of the drowning], but if you can't see in the water, I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference how many you got."
If passed, the State Fire Marshall and Department of Health and Hospitals would be authorized to conduct investigations to assure water parks are in compliance.
The legislative session begins March 10.
For previous reports on this story, click HERE.