Thought I'd have my say, as someone who was at the park on Thursday (although I did not see the incident itself).
All this talk of 'she fell 30feet from a rope bridge'
is complete nonsense. The incident occurred at the back of the courtyard area, between the fastrack entrance and the ride exit- she fell around 14feet from the elevated walkway
- not to detract from the sadness of this incident but the sensationalist nature of some people's/organisation's opinions/reportings really bugs me. (Furthermore, the actual bridge sections of the queue-line are [as somebody has already said] steel-framed and in no-way reliant on rope!)
By the time I got to the area there was a barricade of (presumably) ride and security staff, with the entire courtyard area closed off. Whilst they wouldn't say what happened, they were pretty calm and professional (as they should be).
I've thought pretty long and hard about this, and I disagree with the lynch-mob nature of many individuals' reactions on the park's Facebook page- whilst a highly emotive response is inevitable given that it is a very young child, people are, on the whole, jumping to conclusions...
I won't say which, but I have myself worked at a [now] Merlin UK park, and the queue lines are checked and walked-through each and every morning as part of the opening procedure (I assume this hasn't changed). This would involve cleaning, clearing any puddles, and a general going-over of the area for any hazards (eg. exposed nails)- thus I find it hard to believe that the ride would have opened on Thursday without any staff noticing this 'gap' that many people seem to be referring to.
Yes the area looks tired, and the fencing on the elevated walkways is old, but having walked through the queue on Thursday morning as a visitor (at around 11)- it is by no means falling apart! If, as a couple of Facebook commenters alleged, a broken panel was indeed reported the day before, that same panel would have been replaced (at the latest) in the morning prior to opening. I feel the need to defend the park here- there is NO WAY they would simply ignore such a hazard, given how thoroughly they check these things and how important H&S is to theme parks in general.
The term 'negligence' could be applied to the park's reluctance to maintain the appearance
of some areas, but never to the way in which they approach health and safety.
From what I can gather (purely my opinion), I would say that at most, a plank in the fence was loose (but in-tact) at the time of opening on Thursday, and this may have been further damaged by guests at some point during the day- creating the hazard. What remains a mystery to me is whether anybody thought to report the gap immediately, and whether 'the park' were made aware of the hazard- and if so, how long they were aware before the incident occurred. I maintain, however, a firm belief that they would have responded immediately to any such danger if they were aware (probably by evacuating the queue line and/or closing the ride entirely).
Finally, I really begrudge the way newspapers/websites/TV news reportings are quoting directly from the CWoA Facebook page, padding out the story with comments from people claiming to be relatives (whilst not verified as being so) and comments from those making unjust statements!