COLUMBUS, Ohio — The family of an Ohio woman who died after contracting a brain-eating amoeba at the U.S. National Whitewater Center near Charlotte has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the park.
The family of 8-year-old Lauren Seitz filed the federal lawsuit Monday in Columbus, Ohio.
Seitz died in June 2016 from meningoencephalitis, a disease caused by the amoeba Naegleria fowleri. The lawsuit says Seitz contracted the amoeba after she was thrown overboard while whitewater rafting at the park.
Mecklenburg County health officials shut down the park’s whitewater features following the discovery of the amoeba.
The lawsuit claims the center failed to properly chlorinate the water, failed to regulate the temperature of the water and failed to warn visitors of the possible danger.
The family is seeking punitive damages of more than $1 million.
The amoeba that caused Seitz’s death is naturally present in warm, freshwater lakes during the summer. Infections caused by the amoeba are rare: fewer than 10 cases have been reported annually in the United States over the last 53 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Almost all such cases are fatal.
The contaminated water was treated and released in the Catawba River. River experts said the water was treated before it was released with chlorine levels that were 10 times higher than what is required to kill the amoeba.