We’ve all heard of freak accidents at theme parks and one woman, Toni Steedman, found herself a victim of such an accident when a free-fall waterslide left her with her uterus ripped, causing her to bleed heavily.

While the incident took place back in 2017, Toni is sharing her experience now in response to recent events that saw a British tourist break his neck on a similar ride.

A mother of two, Toni and her husband had brought their family to Tenerife, Spain to celebrate his birthday. They had planned to spend the day at Aqualand Waterpark, which is known for its array of waterslides, especially the Kamikaze—a 22m vertical descent that also happens to be the tallest waterslide in Europe.

Image: YouTube

However, the slide was so steep and the velocity of the ride so great that water was forced into her body, resulting in a 7cm tear in her uterus.

“The slide was really fast and when I hit the water at the bottom I felt something just burst inside me. When I stood up I felt as though I needed the toilet but as I moved blood started pouring from between my legs. It was making a trail as I walked from the pool,” she recounted.

Toni was immediately brought to a hospital three minutes away, where the doctors quickly staunched the bleeding and gave her three blood transfusions. She was then sent to a bigger hospital further north where she underwent surgery to repair the tear.

Due to the severity of the accident, Toni wasn’t able to leave the country for more than a week and was out of work for two months. She was also unable to claim insurance as she had not informed her insurance company that she would be going away.

Toni also stated that the lifeguards had neglected to tell her any of the safety precautions such as to cross her arms and legs, which would have prevented the accident from happening in the first place.

In a viral video from July 8 this year, David Briffaut and his girlfriend can be seen sliding down head-first on mats at Aqualandia in Benidorm, Spain, but the moment they hit the water, his head can be seen snapping forward.

Image: David Briffaut’s Facebook

It turned out that he had broken two vertebrae on the spot and had briefly lost consciousness.

Despite the prompt medical attention, he continues to be on life support and medics have warned that he may be paralysed from the chest or waist down.

Even though Toni had been relatively lucky, has since recovered from her injury, and is still able to have children, David will require a lifelong caretaker.

As the full extent of David’s injuries remain unclear and he requires more surgeries, his family has since set up a crowdfunding page to help alleviate the costs of the procedures. The page has raised more than S$76,113 at the time of writing.

Both waterparks have long been under fire, with unhappy holidaymakers leaving negative reviews on their page.

In a statement, Aqualandia spokesman Maria Jose Marcos said, “We have video footage which plainly shows how the 23-year-old man did not follow the guidelines for Splash. Our lifeguard team informed him of the rules of the ride and he didn’t obey them. So, Aqualandia cannot be held for the consequences of visitors failing to follow safety rules. Of course, Aqualandia helped him and his friends in every way and our insurance covered all the medical attention. Aqualandia has a long history—34 years—and safety is our top priority.”

Text: Rainer Cheung / AsiaOne / July 2019