You're putting people right into a confined lineup with a shallow concrete bottom. There's no barriers to entry. Plus, you're adding booze into the equation.
(Editor’s note: Was New Jersey surfer Fabrizio Stabile’s death at the celebrated Waco wavepool in 2018 caused by negligence and the matter covered up, as alleged by his family in their ongoing wrongful death lawsuit? Today, in part four, click to read parts one, two, and three, a former employee describes a new two-million dollar filtration system and an owner oblivious to any previous danger.)
After shutting down in October 2018, BSR reopened its doors on March 22nd, 2019, claiming improved water quality and a new wave.
The pool is no longer dyed cotton candy blue and now boasts a “state-of-the-art” filtration system built and implemented by Water Tech Solutions and approved by the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.
According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, the filtration system cost $2 million.
The pool reportedly has additional measures to ensure filtration. An added lagoon helps with filtration, and Royal Wiseman, a general manager, has called the water “drinking-water quality.”
The pool still receives its water from the “craters:” thirty-foot-high mounds of dirt that store the water and act as cooling towers.
According to a former BSR employee, as of the 2019 season, those craters were not tested or treated.
“When BSR had their own independent study, last year [in 2019], after we had filtration . . . they decided that after that we would no longer treat or test the water in the craters. No one was supposed to go to the craters after that. The way the craters were set up . . . made it just like a petri dish for microbial life. Nobody treats it or tests it anymore. We don’t go up there. We open the valves, but we don’t go up there. Or that was the rule [in 2019].”
The purported sale of BSR is still pending. The court heard oral arguments concerning that order on November 4, 2020.
There is little end in sight for the litigation. The court order stopping the sale is still on appeal and it’s unclear when the Texas Tenth Court of Appeals will make a ruling.
Once there is a decision, the case will be remanded to the McClennan County District Court for a final judgment, though the American legal system isn’t particularly well known for its efficiency, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only slowed the courts.
Settlement doesn’t seem likely either.
The parties rejected a mediation order in March 2020, and the litigation has become increasingly hostile.
The pool is currently open for business. There have not been any additional reports of Naegleria fowleria.
It’s quite easy to villainize in these types of stories, but it’s important to note that the park’s owner Stuart Parsons Jr seemed oblivious to the danger.
Before Stabile’s death, his children used to go play at the surf pool.
A former BSR employee said about Parsons: “He had never considered possibilities of that water being dangerous to the point that his kids were in the water as much as anyone else. You’d get there in the morning after the beach was raked at night and there’d be three or four little sets of footprints where him and his kids had been playing on the beach.”
Fabrizio’s won’t be the last death at a surf pool.
You’re putting people right into a confined lineup with a shallow concrete bottom. There’s no barriers to entry. I have no business surfing some of the new slabs, but because I can competently trim I can “paddle out” there.
And then I hesitate on that slab and go over the falls head first into the concrete bottom.
Plus, you’re adding booze into the equation. When I’m too drunk to surf I won’t make the paddle out at my local, but I could definitely wade out into a pool.
Skiing is a mess of negligence. My guess is the wave pools will follow.
Pools will become more ubiquitous and barriers to entry will lower and corners will be cut. There’s just too much money to be made in commodifying surfing.