‘Unprepared’ staff at an inflatable waterpark ‘begged customers for goggles’ after an 11-year-old girl went missing and died, witnesses claim.
The little girl, named locally as Kyra, was one of around 40 people at the aqua assault course birthday party held at Liquid Leisure on Saturday.
Onlookers told how the event descended into “complete chaos” after the youngster was reported missing.
She was understood to be playing on the Total Wipeout-style challenge with some 10 friends for an hour-long session at 3pm.
But their fun turned into a frantic rescue mission just 40 minutes later, with Kyra’s mum and friends screaming her name.
Parents and staff started searching the changing rooms at the centre in Datchet, Berkshire, after she reportedly didn’t come back from her afternoon session.
Adults dived into the water and began frantically searching for the child before police and firefighters arrived and two helicopters were scrambled.
Up to 40 people took part in the 90-minute hunt for Kyra who was last seen “going underwater” and could not swim, according to other children.
Witnesses claim emergency services did not arrive for 40 minutes while lifeguards started pulling apart the inflatable equipment in a bid to find her.
Others said staff were sprinting around and asking customers for goggles to look for her underwater.
Participants are given lifejackets at the water park before heading out onto the inflatable assault course.
But many have criticised the centre for an alleged lack of an emergency procedure and teenage lifeguards ‘not prepared’ to deal with the situation.
James Bull, 25, was among those searching for little Kyra and said it was “a complete shambles.”
He recalled a lady shouting for the youngster before bumping into her friends who said “she went under,” MailOnline reports.
Mr Bull, of Guildford, Surrey, said staff “need proper training” and called for a limit on the number of people allowed in the pool area.
“How could they not see her go under? Why didn’t they have goggles or diving equipment?” he quipped.
“There were more adults and parents in the water looking for her than lifeguards, it was a complete joke.”
A 32-year-old mum, who was visiting the area, said there did not seem to be “a single adult in charge” and said the situation was “horrendous.”
She claimed one of the lifeguards said they did not want to get in because “he didn’t want to get his trainers wet” while some were “screaming to get goggles.”
“I can’t begin to tell you how poorly dealt with it was… iIt was surreal. It just got more and more serious, and the place got more and more silent,” she added.
Witnesses described the inflatable course as having a “ridiculous amount of people” using it at one time.
One mum claimed it took staff 20 minutes to clear the lake and that emergency services were only called at 3.55pm.
Kyra was found 75 minutes later and taken to Wexham Park Hospital, but she sadly died despite rescue efforts.
Police are investigating the circumstances around her death which officers are treating as unexplained.
One witness told told Sky News there was no tannoy system or alarm.
She added: “In the space of a few minutes when they cleared the inflatables and they got all the staff on them, that’s when it became apparent something was really wrong.”
Others commended the efforts of lifeguards during the frantic rescue mission with one woman saying they were “truly amazing.”
The aqua park’s birthday party packages include a 50-minute session on the inflatables, with wetsuit hire, a lifejacket and food and drink for £27 per person.
Areas of the lake reach up to 6m in depth which is dangerous for non swimmers.
Supt Int Michael Greenwood of Thames Valley Police last night commended parents for their bravery after jumping into the lake.
“This has been an extremely traumatic and upsetting incident for all involved,” he said.
“I am aware that several members of the public entered the lake shortly after the girl got into difficulty, but were unable to locate her.
“I would like to commend them for their courage and bravery.”
Liquid Leisure acknowledged Saturday’s “tragic incident” in a comment on Facebook.
A spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and all those effected by this desperately tragic and upsetting incident.
“As Thames Valley Police are in the early stages of an investigation it would not be right for us to add further comment, but we will continue to fully support and assist them throughout the process.”
The park said it closed on Sunday and will be providing further updates soon.