Little Girl's Excitement to Ride Giant Water Slide for First Time Tragically Leads to Her Death
A Michigan girl’s dream of riding the biggest slide in a water park turned deadly after she went into cardiac arrest while plunging down the 273 foot-long chute.
For years, London Eisenbeis looked forward to riding the Super Loop Speed Slide at Zehnder’s Splash Village in Frankenmuth, Michigan, The Sun reports.
So during a family trip to the indoor water park in February 2018 when she finally made the height requirement, it came as no surprise that the 10-year-old headed straight for the slide and eagerly awaited her turn to drop down the four-story tube.
Unbeknownst to London and her family, however, she was suffering from a heart condition called Long QT syndrome that causes abnormal rhythms.
As the 10-year-old finally achieved her dream of going on the massive slide, her heart rate spiked and, due to her condition, the young girl went into cardiac arrest and died.
Following the tragedy, London’s mom Tina, dad Jerry and big sister Eden, have all dedicated their time to raising awareness about the importance of heart defibrillators — a device they believe could have saved her life.
“There were no signs of the condition, she just dropped,” Tina, 44, explained to the outlet of her daughter, who was an active athlete and gymnast. “The day before she had been doing flips in the air.”
“You never know when it’s going to happen,” Tina added. “You never think it’s going to happen to you and this is not a club you want to be part of.”
The unimaginable tragedy occurred on Feb. 18, 2018, during Presidents Day weekend.
After begging her parents to go to the water park, London and her sister excitedly prepared for their fun-filled day ahead by recording a video, which was taken just 45 minutes before her death.
In the clip, shared by Tina with The Sun, London tells the camera, “We’re going to get some footage of our water slides so stay tuned for more videos.”
London, Eden, and their father then departed for the giant slide, which has a 48-inch minimum height requirement and plunges riders down 273 feet with a 360-degree loop in just 6.9 seconds, according to the water park’s website.
Tina, meanwhile, stayed back and waited for her family to return from the “scary” slide. However, things didn’t go as planned when the mother of two noticed a whistle going off and children evacuating the pools with their parents.
“I was like, ‘Oh, there’s probably kids messing around. But within maybe minutes I started seeing women looking terrified. One woman was walking with two children, grabbing them,” she recalled to The Sun. “She said, ‘Somebody’s drowned over there.’ I kind of got nervous.”
Knowing that Jerry didn’t have his cell phone on him, Tina decided to walk over to the scene and find out what the commotion was about. In that quick moment, she witnessed every parents’ worst nightmare.
“[Jerry] was looking down and there were sheets up and I knew it was one of my kids,” she told the outlet. “It was an awful thing.”
Speaking to The Sun, Tina said the tragedy was especially traumatizing as nobody expected London, whose heart condition was unknown at the time, to have her life end from an attraction at a water park.
“London looked at her dad, gave two thumbs up and smiled, went down the slide and came out in cardiac arrest,” Tina told the outlet. “The excitement threw her rhythm.”
“The slide she went down has a heartbeat sound at the top that my husband said made it even scarier,” she added. “Who would have ever thought she would come out the bottom without one?”
London was transported to Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw before being airlifted to the University of Michigan’s children’s hospital, where she remained for nine days on life support.
In that time, doctors told Tina and Jerry that their daughter had gone into cardiac arrest again and suffered brain damage as a result of being deprived of too much oxygen, according to The Sun.
On Feb. 27, London sadly passed away — a moment that Tina described as being partially bittersweet.
“I would have taken her home with the brain damage but I’m glad she made that choice for us,” Tina shared to the outlet. “She fought for nine days in hospital… then she gained her angel wings.”
The young girl was laid to rest on March 3 — the same day that she was expected to attend a daddy-daughter dance at school — and as a tribute, her family had her wear the special dress she had picked out herself for the funeral services.
In the time since their daughter’s death, Tina and Jerry established a non-profit foundation called London Strong, which offers small-cost CPR/AED training classes as a way to raise money and place defibrillators around the community to save lives.
Tina told The Sun that she believed using a defibrillator, a portable device that helps electrically reestablish heartbeats to someone in cardiac arrest, could have saved London’s life in a timely manner.
At the time of the incident, Tina said London did not receive any medical assistance from a defibrillator.
“You have to respond, you don’t have time to wait,” Tina, who has become an instructor for the American Heart Association, told the outlet. “I think people are afraid of defibrillators, but they’re very easy to use. They’re what is needed to bring back the rhythm.”
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At this time, it is unclear if Zehnder’s Splash Village has since added defibrillators to their water parks. Representatives at Zehnder’s did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
As her family continues to grieve the loss of London, Tina said her daughter’s legacy will live on through the foundation, as well as their fond memories of the little girl, who loved animals (especially cats), her family, and engaging with others.
“She had to be the center of attention all the time, the class clown,” she recalled. “She always wanted to see everybody be happy, she never wanted to see anybody sad… [she] loved everybody.”