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Xcaret water park in Riviera Maya investigated for wrongful death

Playa del Carmen, Q.R. — A criminal investigation into the death of a 13-year-old boy at an Xcaret water park has been opened. In a press release, the Attorney General of the state (FGE) made the announcement after Emergency 911 was notified of the death of the child via a private hospital.

According to the FGE, staff from the hospital reported the drowning death of the 13-year-old boy and not the water park. In their release, the FGE (Fiscalia General del Estado) of Quintana Roo said “the rule of law in Quintana Roo is firm and there will be no privileges for any group or person who intends to omit the responsibility that corresponds by law”.

The agency says an investigation for wrongful death has been opened after the hospital reported the child “having lost his life due to submersion” and adds that “an investigation has not yet been possible due to the fact that the father… granted the legal pardon.”

The accident happened on March 27 when the boy, Leonardo N, was visiting the Xenses water park with his family. While swimming in the Riolajante (river) with is father, the boy’s legs were sucked into the pool’s filtration system.

The child was pulled from the river and rushed to hospital where he died the following morning. The father, Miguel Ángel Luna Calvo, said that after waiting six hours and being made to sign a pardon in favor of the park, the body of his son was finally released to him.

“They asked me to sign a pardon in favor of Xenses Park beforehand, which was highly conditioned by Grupo Xcaret’s legal advisors. Seeing the emotional health of my wife and not wanting to see her suffer more, I signed the document, they put a lot of pressure on me,” said Leo’s father.

He said that he stayed more than six hours in the Prosecutor’s Office since they did not allow him to make a statement. He indicated that the file (1675/2021) was not opened as a homicide, but as a special case and that the death certificate shows his son died of drowning. “My son died due to negligence in the park. If we don’t make this public, it will continue to happen,” he said.

The FGE says that the investigation remains open and that all pertinent and conducive investigation acts are being carried out to determine the probable participation of the person or persons who, by commission or omission, are related to the criminal event.

Since their statement, officers from Playa del Carmen Civil Protection have suspended the Riolajante attraction inside the Xenses park, which belongs to Grupo Xcaret. Officials arrived at the park mid-day Thursday, where they proceeded to seal off the river where the accident occurred.

The park has also issued a second statement regarding the death, which in part reads “At Xenses our priority is the safety and well-being of our visitors and that is why we deeply regret the accident that occurred on March 27 at our facilities and which led to the death of the minor who was visiting the park with his family.”

The Xenses statement goes on to say that “In the investigation carried out, we were able to determine a human error when making unauthorized arrangements in the accident area.”

In a statement, Francisco Poot Kauil of Playa del Carmen Civil Protection said that operational personnel of the agency carried out an inspection at the establishment, where according to those interviewed, there was negligence during maintenance.

“In the investigations, park personnel informed us that it was negligence that one of the workers left one of the grids open,” the statement said.

“For our part, we will follow up on this investigation and continue to carry out the corresponding inspections, since, as Civil Protection, we are to safeguard the physical integrity and property of citizens,” he said.