Lake Winnie water slide reopens after boy fell on Fourth of July

Staff photo / Billy Heard, top, and his son, Aidan, 6, enjoy their tube ride on the Twist-N-Shout water slide in 2019 at SoakYa Waterpark at Lake Winnie in Rossville.

The water slide from which a 5-year-old boy fell 15-20 feet on the Fourth of July at Lake Winnepesaukah has reopened, the park's owners said Thursday.

"The state of Georgia today reinspected the Twist-N-Shout water ride in operation, including the rider tubes, the ride foundation, and signage and reopened it," the park's owners said in a statement. "Lake Winnepesaukah is a family amusement park that prides itself on a safe, welcome atmosphere."

Catoosa County officials had no update on the boy's condition, but park owners said he was transported to the Children's Hospital at Erlanger for treatment after the fall.

"On July 4, a child at our water park riding in a double tube sustained an injury," park co-owner Talley Green said. "All safety guidelines were observed at the time an adult and the child entered the tube."

According to audio of the 911 dispatcher relaying information to first responders, the child reported "pain all over," and there were lacerations on the child's leg.

The Georgia Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire is investigating the incident. The state office is responsible for investigating injuries and death at the state's amusement parks.

"We have an inspector on scene now," spokesperson Weston Burleson said in an email. "It is too early into our investigation to release any preliminary findings, but we will most likely release a final report in the next few days."

County spokesperson John Pless said in a phone call that the nearly 100-year-old park has its own paramedics staff. Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk said deputies went to the scene to help guide first responders to the injury site.

According to its website, children under 3.5 feet are not allowed on the park's two tube slides.

(READ MORE: Very amusing: Lake Winnepesaukah opens 98th season of outdoor family fun)

While enjoying a sunny Independence Day at the water park with her children, Cheyanne Smith said she saw the young boy slung out of the water slide overhead.

After he hit the ground, Smith said on Facebook that he wasn't moving at first.

"But I didn't stick around because I had the kids and, if it was worse, I didn't want them to see it," Smith, a resident of LaFayette, said about the incident. "I did see the dad carrying him and him crying."

Despite moving quickly to keep her children, ages 3 and 6, from seeing the accident scene, Smith said her children were frightened and kept asking if the boy was okay.

In a follow-up Facebook message, Smith said she won't do anything differently in the future because she thinks it was a freak accident and security did an amazing job.

D. Lowery is a season pass holder at Lake Winnepesaukah and mother of four. The situation about the boy's injury is sad, and in a Facebook post she said she is praying for the family.

In a message, Lowery said she thinks the rides are relatively safe, but that some of the park rides are off-limits for her children because she has a bad feeling about them.

Lowery said she was planning to take her children to the water park Thursday but would now wait until state officials completed their investigation.

She didn't fault the park for the accident.

"When we attend amusement parks, it's also our responsibility to ensure that our children are safe," Lowery said. "It's our responsibility to check our safety belts, harnesses and safety bars. Would you like to put your life in the hands of strangers? I don't."

One thing Lowery said she would like to see improved at the park is the hiring of more adults and fewer young people.

Contact Andrew Wilkins at or 423-757-6659.