PRESS Staff Report
Attorneys representing the family of Nicolas “Nico” Benavides, the 20-year-old Schlitterbahn Waterpark employee who died after suffering severe head and face injuries due to a work-related incident in March, were in a Cameron County court Wednesday after a petition was filed by Benavides’ mother, Monica Buituteira, days after Benavides’ life support was terminated.
Benavides had been working at the South Padre Island waterpark for approximately five weeks when the incident occurred, said Winter D. Prosapio, Corporate Director of Communications and Government Relations for Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts days following the incident, which involved a second individual, a 27-year old employee at the park, who was discharged from the hospital days later.
Benavides was alive headed into the weekend after the incident but by that point he was being kept alive to allow medical staff the opportunity to find recipients for his organs, which his family agreed to donate.
According to Prosapio, Benavides was a well-liked and a popular employee at the waterpark and his fellow employees are taking the situation extremely hard. At a press conference days after the incident, Prosapio said that grief counselors were called on-site to help employees cope with this tragedy.
As for the incident itself, Prosapio said that OSHA and Schlitterbahn were investigating the matter, hoping to discover the exact details surrounding the accident.
While Prosapio could not divulge specific details as to how the incident occurred, she did say that it happened in an area behind the scenes, and that it did involve routine maintenance of a wave generator.
Prosapio also did not know if the recently hired lifeguard had specific training for the task, but she did say that the victims were working with a team that did have training to do what the work entailed. She added that it’s not uncommon for employees from one department to assist at another, if their help is required.
According to labor records, this is the first substantial incident at the Island location since its opening in 2001.
Since the incident, however, it’s been discovered that Benavides was sucked in by a wave generator and crushed.
In the family’s petition, the family claims that the 20-year old was working as a lifeguard, and was “ordered” to assist with the wave generator.
Attorneys for the waterpark told the court that they needed more time to gather information that the family’s attorneys are seeking which include information about the persons or entity involved in the design, make, sale and installation of the wave generator in question, and evidence relating to the accident.
A second hearing is scheduled for April 24.
Read this story in the April 4 edition of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.