The family of an 11-year-old schoolgirl who died at Drayton Manor Theme Park have said they are “devastated that we will not see our beautiful little girl again”.
Evha Jannath, from Leicester, fell out of a boat on the Splash Canyon ride during a school trip to the Tamworth-based theme park on Tuesday.
In a statement issued through police, the family said: “Yesterday our world was torn apart by the news that our daughter and sister Evha, had lost her life in tragic circumstances, following a school trip to Drayton Manor Park.
“Evha was a beautiful little girl who was full of love and always smiling.
“Words cannot describe the pain and loss we feel, we are devastated that we will not see our beautiful little girl again.
“We ask that you allow us to grieve in private and deal with our loss as a family.”
Staffordshire Police said Evha was recovered from the water and received advanced life support from ambulance crews before she was flown to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where she later died.
Eyewitnesses have described the moment that the schoolgirl was killed when she was “sucked under” the rapids of the ride.
Evha, a pupil at the Jameah Academy – an integrated Islamic day school for girls in Leicester – is said to have fell from one of the boats when it hit a rock.
A parent of another pupil told MailOnline: ‘When the girl got up to change seats just then it hit a rock and she got knocked out of the boat and fell in the water and the water currents dragged her in.”
According to the park safety guidelines, adults are told to “supervise” children near water rides including Splash Canyon, and water quality is continually assessed.
Eyewitness Matt Mason, 44, said: “I was on Splash Canyon just before the person who fell in.
“Didn’t see it happen but was collecting my family photo when a lady came up to the collection booth to say that a girl had fallen in.
“She was pretty calm so we assumed it was nothing major.
“Shortly afterwards, police, fire and ambulances arrived and the ride and whole area was closed.
“No one seemed panicked over an hour later when we left.”
Drayton Manor will remain shut today as a mark of respect for Evha.
Park director George Bryan looked visibly shaken as he spoke of the staff’s ‘shock and devastation’ at the girl’s death.
He said: “We are all truly shocked and devastated, and our thoughts are with the family and friends at this horrendously difficult time.”
In a statement her school said it was providing “support to pupils and staff” and asked that Evha’s family and the school community was given “time to grieve”.
A spokesperson for Jameah Girls Academy said: “We are liaising with the relevant authorities at this time.
“Please be assured that the safety and well-being of all our pupils is a priority.
“We would also request that the family as well as the school community be given the time to grieve.”
Staffordshire Police said specially-trained officers were supporting her family following the “tragic incident”.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said it was making initial inquiries into the tragedy alongside the emergency services, while the Evha’s school said it is “liaising with the relevant authorities”.
Splash Canyon, which opened in 1993, and features up to 21 boats each with a capacity of six people, offers a “a wild ride” with “fast-flowing rapids”.
Top pic: SWNS