Boy, 8, hospitalized after near-drowning at Cowabunga Bay


A young boy remains in the hospital after nearly drowning at Cowabunga Bay over the weekend.

The near-drowning of the 8-year-old happened Sunday evening in the wave pool, one of the most popular attractions at Cowabunga Bay.

The wave pool remained closed Monday as investigators tried to determine how the incident happened.

According to the Southern Nevada Health District, Cowabunga Bay had eight lifeguards on duty when the boy went under at the wave pool just before 6 p.m.

The boy was transported to Sunrise Hospital.

While the details leading up to the near-drowning remained murky, Cowabunga Bay released the following statement:

“There was a medical incident at the park tonight. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family involved, and we will provide support to the family as needed and requested.  We cannot provide further details at this stage as we are in the process of  investigating the incident. Please allow us the time needed to investigate the circumstances fully.” – Cowabunga Bay Management

This isn’t the first time a child has nearly died at the park. In 2015, 6-year-old Leland Gardner was swept under in the wave pool and left suffering permanent damage.

“Leland suffered a catastrophic brain injury. He has minimal motor skills. He can’t talk. He can’t eat,” said Samuel Mirkovich, an attorney for Leland Gardner’s family, during a Nov. 2106 interview.

At the time of Gardner’s incident, Cowabunga Bay was required by state law to have 17 lifeguards on duty at the wave pool, but records obtained by the I-Team showed that only three were working that day.

Months later, park officials asked the health district for a variance, arguing that fewer lifeguards would improve public safety.

District staff agreed to cut the required number of lifeguards by almost two-thirds. Officials say the park was in compliance with the new standard at the time of this latest incident.

Peter and Christian Gardner, the parents of Leland authorized their attorneys at the law firm of Campbell & Williams to release the following statement:

“As a result of the numerous press inquiries received over the past 24 hours, we would like to issue the following statement. We wish to express our deepest sympathies and sincere concern for the young boy who was involved in the near-drowning that occurred in the wave pool at Cowabunga Bay yesterday. We intend to offer our complete support to assist the child and his family members in any way as we are all too familiar with the challenges that they will face both now and in the future. We pray both the child and his family have a complete and speedy recovery from this terrible and completely preventable tragedy. We kindly ask the press to respect our privacy and to direct all future inquiries to our attorneys at Campbell & Williams.”

Health district staff had just been to the park for an annual inspection last week. They were reviewing staffing schedules and the park’s plans as part of that inspection.

The Southern Nevada Health District was also at the park Monday to follow up on the incident.

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