Iowa 16-year-old on life support 10 days after amusement park accident

"For how long this boy didn't have oxygen, that he has at least some level of consciousness, is incredibly miraculous."


Sixteen-year-old David Jaramillo Jr. remains on life support 10 days after the Adventureland Raging River accident in Iowa that killed his younger brother. Eleven-year-old Michael Jaramillo died after the family's raft flipped over on July 3.

The family's pastor, Christian Shields, says it's unclear if David will make a full recovery but he is showing signs of improvement.

"The fact that he is even alive is a miracle, let alone that he is responding. He can answer yes or no questions by shaking his head," Shields said.

Shields visited David Jr. at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines on Tuesday.

"Seeing him turn his head toward his parents when he hears their voice — when I first saw that it brought me so much joy because I was like 'this is a miracle.' This is what only God can do. For how long this boy didn't have oxygen, that he has at least some level of consciousness, is incredibly miraculous," Shields said.

David Jaramillo Sr. underwent reconstructive shoulder surgery on Tuesday. His shoulder was pinned underneath the raft and ultimately crushed when he tried to lift it off of his sons.

"What he told me was he said all I could think about was getting this raft off my boys, and so I just pushed past the pain. He said he could hear his shoulder crunch and crush as he pulled his shoulder out from under this raft. And then he got out of the raft and he tried to lift the raft off of his two boys, but one of his arms just didn't work," said Shields.

Shields says the Jaramillo family is "incredibly angry" about the accident and holds Adventureland accountable.

"This was a catastrophic series of events that have led to the death of one boy and another boy in critical condition. So yeah they are angry about it. I am angry about it," said Shields. "There's been a lot of information that comes out, and man it leaves us angry, and it definitely leaves us wanting justice."

Investigators and engineers were back at Adventureland Tuesday. They used a crane to remove the capsized raft and took it to a secure location to examine it. Adventureland's attorney, Guy Cook, says Adventureland officials reached out to the Jaramillo family to offer support. Cook calls the incident a "tragic and extremely unusual accident."

Shields says the Jaramillo family is asking prayers that David Jr. will be able to see again and that he won't have permanent brain damage.

"There is major concern about what kind of brain damage has been occurred for not having oxygen for such a long period of time," Shields said.

Shields also noted that David Jr. is having memory issues and doesn't understand why he is in the hospital each day.

"His memory is not there. He doesn't know that he has been in an accident. He doesn't know that he has been in a hospital. They were able to find out that he has a lot of pain in his chest and his lungs and his arms. So they have been doing a lot of pain management. I can't even imagine the agony of not being fully conscious, but knowing you are in pain and not being able to do anything about it. It's really an awful situation for him," Shields said.