FRUITLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Did human error lead to a chemical cloud that choked up dozens of people at a popular Muskegon County amusement park? The answers range from yes to maybe.
The chlorine release happened Friday at Michigan’s Adventure in Fruitland Township. Twenty-eight park-goers were hospitalized following the release, though none sustained serious injuries.
Muskegon County Emergency Services Director Sgt. Dan Stout II told 24 Hour News 8 Monday it appeared workers put the wrong information into a computer that controls chemical levels in Michigan’s Adventure’s wave pool.
“I’m guessing they miscalculated the amount of chemicals that were suppose to be mixed together, they created this dangerous chlorine gas cloud,” Stout said.
A call requesting comment from Michigan’s Adventure management regarding the findings was not returned.
But a short time later on Monday afternoon, 24 Hour News 8 received a statement from Stout’s boss, Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler.
“While human error remains 1 possibility, the final determination by experts HAVE NOT been made,” said Roesler in the statement.
“There is a continuing investigation by qualified officials including interviews, data review and testing, to determine the cause. I apologize on behalf of my Office for any confusion this may have caused. Once the cause has in fact been determined, that information will then be released,” Roesler continued.
White Lake Fire Authority Chief Gregory Holman also released a statement, which said in part that “Michigan’s Adventure staff and Administration are currently investigating this rare occurrence and at the conclusion of this investigation will provide a full media release.”
Investigators are also looking into whether park workers tried to fix the problem before calling 911 by adjusting valves, which may have made the leak worse.
“From witness statements at the park near the wave pool and Lazy River area, they actually said they saw a green cloud that was floating above the water,” Stout told 24 Hour News 8.
>>Photos: Hazmat situation at Michigan’s Adventure
The pool remained closed for at least part of the day Monday. Inspectors with the Michigan Department of Community Health and Department of Environmental Quality had to sign off before the park could put the pool back in operation.
Meanwhile, several lifeguards are being credited with their quick action despite the danger.
“The lifeguards took action. They closed the area down. The people who were in the pool … The lifeguards went in and pulled them out, even though there was that gas cloud there,” said Stout.
Emergency responders say while it was a frightening afternoon for the 63 people affected by the cloud, there are between 10,000 and 15,000 people in the park at a given time. It could have been much worse.