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How a family trip to SeaWorld and a seemingly harmless memory ended in tragedy

While visiting SeaWorld, six-year-old Deklan Babington-MacDonald was doing what thousands of Gold Coasters do every weekend, unaware that a memory of his trip would leave him on life support with no hope of recovery.

While the Gold Coast is renowned for being home to Australia’s largest theme parks, SeaWorld is most popular with locals as it is conveniently located on The Spit, not far from Surfer’s Paradise.

The six-year-old was playing with the toy at home on ANZAC day when the accident happened

SeaWorld is a popular theme park for residents of the Gold Coast due to its close location

SeaWorld is a popular theme park for residents of the Gold Coast due to its close location

DreamWorld and MovieWorld, by comparison, are located in Coomera on the North Gold Coast and require more planning for a “day trip”. When the kids are crawling along the walls, SeaWorld is the easy option for a few hours of fun away from the house.

Dolphins, penguins, polar bears, seals and stingrays never fail to entertain young children.

Deklan probably reached the open touch pool at the ever popular Ray Reef, where visitors can stroke the backs of stingrays as they glide around the pool.

Deklan's mother Lauren (right) had been watching over her son's bedside since last Sunday

Deklan’s mother Lauren (right) had been watching over her son’s bedside since last Sunday

Deklan was known as a spirited kid who had just started the second term of the first grade in school

Deklan was known as a spirited kid who had just started the second term of the first grade in school

The toy was similar to the one in the photo

The toy was similar to the one in the photo

He would have stuck his face against the glass at Tropical Reef Lagoon to see the dreaded large sharks swimming in front of his nose. And I watched the antics of polar bears Hudson, Nelson, and juvenile bear Mishka at Polar Bear Shores.

Perhaps it was while visiting the Penguin Encounter, an indoor exhibit where you can watch cheeky king and gentoo penguins from above, or as they swim through an underwater viewing window, that Deklan took in got the idea of ​​claiming the toy penguin involved in his horrific accident a few days later.

Like any theme park, merchandise is part of the day. Visitors can only leave the park through a large gift shop full of stuffed penguins and polar bears, t-shirts, mugs and key chains.

More merchandise shops and small stalls are scattered throughout the property. The toy believed to have been involved in Deklan’s horrific accident – a penguin with a harness attached to a three-foot-long lead pole – is often seen hanging from a movable rack outside of small “pop” merchandise stalls. -up “near major attractions such as polar bears.

It’s a common sight to see children ‘walking’ their stuffed penguins or polar bears on the pole through SeaWorld’s expansive parking lot as they set off for the day.

Details of how Deklan managed to use the toy in a way that left him on life support remain unclear, but the boy’s cousin, Lea Williams, said the family expected him to there is a coronary investigation into the accident.

Three days ago, a friend posted on Facebook: “Lauren (Deklan’s mother) asked me to share that the doctors have informed that Deklan is unrecoverable. Deklan’s life-saving assistance will be withdrawn within the next 48 hours. .

As you can understand, this is a devastating time for the family, so please respect their privacy and understand that they will not be able to talk on the phone. They read the messages of support and appreciate all the love and kindness shown by the community.

The money donated will go to the Deklan Memorial and allow Lauren to make an important keepsake with Deklan’s ashes when the time is right.

Deklan shows off his Easter beanie wearing his Willian Duncan State School uniform

Deklan shows off his Easter beanie wearing his Willian Duncan State School uniform

Gold Coast Police told Daily Mail Australia there were no suspicious circumstances in their initial investigation into the crash, having been called to Deklan’s home last Sunday.

A fundraising campaign set up to support Deklan’s mother, Lauren, raised nearly $ 12,500 on Friday afternoon. Donations can be made here.

Daily Mail Australia first alerted SeaWorld to its toy’s role in Deklan’s crash, triggering a statement on Thursday that the theme park was “distressed” by the boy’s tragic accident and announcing the toy would be taken down of sale at the moment.

“We must understand the circumstances of what happened and will cooperate fully with any investigation,” the statement said.

“We will also contact Deklan’s family to offer their support. We will not make any further comment until all the facts are known.

Deklan’s school principal William Duncan State School declined to comment when approached by Daily Mail Australia, but all students were given access to advice.

“As a school community, we will come together and support each other, while respecting the privacy of the family during this most difficult time,” wrote Principal Regan Gant in a letter to parents.


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