The Shark Attack water slide at Six Flags America in Largo remained closed yesterday following the death of a 29-year-old Pennsylvania woman who was found unconscious after riding the popular attraction on the Fourth of July.
Paramedics said the woman went into cardiac arrest during the ride, a 220-foot, partially enclosed water slide that drops 52 feet. She was found floating in three feet of water at the base of the slide.
"There were no signs of trauma and no indications of drowning," said Mark E. Brady, a Prince George's County fire department spokesman.
Prince George's police said the woman, Maria Salazar of Gettysburg, probably had medical problems before she got on the ride about 6:15 p.m. Detectives are investigating and awaiting results from the medical examiner about the cause of death, said Cpl. Debbie Carlson, a police spokeswoman.
Six Flags spokeswoman Lahne Curry said yesterday that the park was waiting for inspection reports from the state and county health departments before reopening the Shark Attack. She said she did not know whether the slide would be open today.
Curry said that the water slide did not malfunction and that once lifeguards saw there was a problem, they reacted immediately.
"Everyone did everything they were supposed to do on our end," Curry said.
Park officials administered CPR and used a defibrillator in an attempt to revive Salazar. She was then taken to Bowie Health Center, where she was pronounced dead.
At the crowded park yesterday, a lifeguard sat in front of the brightly colored Shark Attack, telling people it was closed. When asked why it was not open, he responded, "I'm not sure right now."
Dave Theiss of Kent Island, Md., along with his two teenage children and a friend, walked up to the Shark Attack not knowing it was closed. When he learned what happened, he said that the incident was tragic but that it did not make him nervous about going on the rides.
"I'm here for fun," said Theiss, 45, who has season passes to the park.
His son's friend, Eric Russell, 13, looked at the empty ride next to him and said the idea that someone died there hours earlier upset him.
"It's horrible," said Eric, dripping wet from another water ride. "You'd never expect someone to die on a ride like that."
Next to the Shark Attack, Jeff Palmer, 50, of Dover, Del., was with his daughter Jennifer Palmer, 22, who took him for a delayed Father's Day outing. They had just come off the water slide Tornado.
"It doesn't sound like the ride was unsafe," Jeff Palmer said of the Shark Attack. "It's unfortunate that happened because this place is supposed to be fun. It's a real downer on a fun day at the park."