Water Ball Safety Questioned After Girl Nearly Dies

KINGSTON (CBS) – The state is taking a look at the safety of a popular water amusement ride at local malls after a young girl nearly died.

The Water Ball puts kids inside an airtight inflatable ball to walk, run or jump on water.

At the Independence Mall in Kingston on Sunday, a girl stopped breathing inside one of them.

According to the police report, the unidentified girl suddenly became unresponsive inside a bubble as it moved across the water.

Jamie Gavin witnessed the frightening scene and called 911.

“She was completely blue and completely limp and she needed several minutes of CPR,” she told WBZ-TV.

“I thought she was dead when they pulled her out.”

“This little girl didn’t have breathable air in there, she was not breathing that whole time.”

EMT’s were able to revive the girl who, sources told WBZ-TV, may have had a pre-existing condition.

She was taken to a hospital, but there is no word on her recovery.

Investigators are trying to determine if she lost consciousness because of the ride or for some other reason.

The Water Ball site at the mall has been shut down.

However, it can still be found at the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis and the Solomon Pond Mall in Marlborough.

The state is now taking a closer look at the ride.

“We are reading and interpreting our current law to determine if we can classify the so-called “waterball” as an amusement device. That designation would allow us to either regulate their use or ban them altogether,” Terrell Harris of the Executive Office of Safety and Security told WBZ-TV in a statement.

  • Jane

    Ok, am I the only one who thinks the waterball seems like a ridiculously terrible idea? It’s the same reason you don’t give babies plastic bags, or let them climb inside a container and put the lid on. Didn’t anyone see that episode of Punky Brewster when she got stuck in the refrigerator? You need to have air to live…unless this story is not completely accurate when it talks about an “airtight” ball as I’ve never actually seen these things in person but I know I wouldn’t let my kids go in one of those things.
    Either way, I hope the little girl is ok.

    • Charles Jones

      I invented the water ball in 1998, I have 13 years of experience working with them actively for events all over the world. All you have to do is calculate the volume of a 2m sized sphere and you will see that there is almost half of the daily requirement for breathable air of a human being to live, not to do activities but just that is the calculations. Many times more air that a person would need to stay inside a 2m sized water ball for a maximum amount of time which we suggest to our customers of no more than 20 minutes when not used under the sun. In the sun the maximum time is 5-7 minutes . We have never had a reported accident of any kind from use of the water ball as its actually very difficult to hurt yourself.
      You must have a person to blow up the ball so that is one person always watching what is happening as they must as each ride is timed so total supervision. The hospital reported that the child had a medical problem and that the water ball had nothing to do with the accident , this event is not an event any more its old news , The Water ball is declared innocent and as reported all this took place in 2-3 minutes and then the incident was over , the child was sent to the hospital as a precaution only. So if anyone really wants to know any information about the water balls please contact me anytime for reliable information based on facts and tests. Millions of people have tried the water balls world wide and they are one of the safest rides for use on the water that have probably ever been invented . You do not even get wet, so how can you possibly drown. I hope this clears up things a bit for everyone .

      • Larry Hall

        I would like information on waterballs. Thank you
        Larry Hall

      • Water Ball Safety Council

        The balls are 2 meters in diameter and have enough oxygen for over an hour. The girl in this story had a pre-existing condition according to EMTs so the accident is not relative to the amount of oxygen. Most water ball operators change the rider and the air every 5 or 10 minutes so there should be no problem. When properly supervised, water balls are as safe as Ferris wheels and roller coasters. So far we don’t know of any deaths resulting from water balls. However in an unsupervised environment like a back yard pool or lake or marina, accidents are going to happen. The Water Ball Safety Council advocates a lifeguard in the pool or adjacent to the pool at all times watching for distress and anxiety from the children.

  • LR Cote

    ” The Water Ball puts kids inside an airtight inflatable ball to walk, run or jump on water. ”

    And people think this is something their kids need to do? It’s an airtight ball, people!

    • Herb Halling

      Yes it is an air tight container with enough oxygen to last a long time. Skiing down mountains is far more dangerous, or just swimming in a pool is more dangerous, or crossing a busy street is dangerous, but you do it all the time. Then you jump at the chance to bad mouth water balls that have been claimed to be the safest water activity available for children. There has never been a fatality from suffocation or drowning in the history of water balls.

  • Deb

    I would not put myself in an airtight container, so I would not want to see children in them either. It is up to the parents but in my opinion it doe not look safe.

  • http://boston.cbslocal.com/2010/12/07/officials-issue-stern-warning-against-water-balls/ Officials Issue ‘Stern Warning’ Against Water Balls « CBS Boston – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and Boston's Best

    […] the Masschusetts Department of Public Safety is issuing a stern warning against water balls after a 5-year-old girl nearly died in one at the Independence Mall in Kingston last […]

  • http://boston.cbslocal.com/2010/12/10/owner-defends-water-ball-ride/ Owner Defends Water Ball Ride « CBS Boston – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and Boston's Best

    […] last month, a young girl collapsed inside one of the balls for reasons that remain unknown. She’s […]

  • Water Ball Safety Council

    The Water Ball Safety Council is chartered to advocate the safe use of water balls and identify dangerous use of water balls. The public is overly concerned about placing a child in an airtight ball when the real dangers come from other sources. First, the air in a 2 meter ball contains enough oxygen for over an hour and the child is only in the ball for 5 or 10 minutes so lack of oxygen is not a real issue if the child and air is recycled every 5 or 10 minutes.
    The real dangers come from using the balls in unsupervised environments such as a back yard pool with hard edges the child can fall against. Or on lakes or marinas where the ball can blow away in the wind and the child does not have a method of escaping from the ball. Tethered balls tied to boats at anchor can lose their tether and blow away while everyone is preoccupied. Then there are children with preexisting conditions that should not be allowed inside the water balls. In this case the water ball operator gets a bad rap while the water ball operator is following all the recommended safe precautions.
    The Water Ball Safety Council advocates safe use of water balls in controlled environments with lifeguards on duty, inflated pools with soft edges, and shallow water of about 18 inches, and restrict the time to less than 15 minutes. On a hot summer day without shade or tent cover, the time should be reduced to 5 minutes

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  • http://newyorkcity.legalexaminer.com/defective-dangerous-products/cpsc-tells-states-to-ban-water-walking-balls-due-to-suffocation-and-drowning-risks/ CPSC Tells States to Ban Water Walking Balls Due to Suffocation and Drowning Risks | New York City Legal Examiner | New York City New York Personal Injury Lawyer

    […] CBS Boston reports that a girl stopped breathing inside a water ball at a mall attraction in Kingston, Mass. in November 2010. She needed several minutes of CPR by emergency responders and transport to a hospital. Her condition is unknown. […]

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