APPLE VALLEY, Minn. - The 18-year-old who admitted to police he "pushed" an 8-year-old boy off a 31-foot-high waterslide platform had been reprimanded for a prior incident at the same water park, according to authorities.
Apple Valley Police said Thursday that Roman Adams, of Maple Grove, previously bit a lifeguard at the Apple Valley Aquatic Center on July 13. Authorities were not notified of that incident at the time when it occurred but were notified by water park staff during the investigation into the waterslide incident.
Adams is currently charged with third-degree assault after the child suffered multiple broken bones and fractures. He told investigators he pushed the boy at the park on Tuesday because the line was taking too long.
Apple Valley Police Capt. Nick Francis said Adams has developmental disabilities, which could be taken into account as the case moves through the courts system.
Police say a PCA (or aide) was with Adams at the water park but that aide was not standing side-by-side with him on the waterslide platform. The PCA was elsewhere in the park at the time of the incident, according to police.
"It's difficult when we have to view someone as a possible suspect that's got some mental disabilities," Francis said. "But our job comes down to determining whether or not a crime took place, whether or not someone knew right from wrong."
Police said it appeared Adams did in fact know right from wrong in this situation.
Jessica Enneking, who specializes in adult mental health at the nonprofit Fraser, said the incident was extremely unfortunate but not typical behavior for a person with a developmental disability. She cautioned the public not to make assumptions based on the case.
"This is not something you would expect to see. It's very unfortunate, very sad for both parties involved," Enneking said, "(but) individuals with developmental disabilities are no more likely to commit any kind of crime than the general public."
Although the aggressive behavior exhibited by Adams is uncommon, Enneking said individuals with developmental disabilities do sometimes become impatient because they have difficulty regulating their emotions.
"His brain might act a little slower than his body, so his body might have acted faster than his brain was ready for," Enneking said.
On Thursday afternoon, the city of Apple Valley released its first public statement about the incident, indicating that it will review safety procedures as needed and report the injury to the state Department of Health as required.
The full statement is listed below:
APPLE VALLEY, MN, - The Apple Valley Family Aquatic Center is committed to the
safety and welfare of our patrons. The City of Apple Valley is deeply concerned by this criminal incident this past week in which a child was injured. In 20 years of operation, with an average of around 70,000 patrons per year, the facility has not experienced any prior incident of this nature.
Our organization is committed to continuous improvement and will continue to evaluate our policies and our facilities for any possible safety improvements. As required by Minnesota law, the City reports all pool-related injuries to the Department of Health to assist in improving public safety design.
We have and will continue to train our lifeguards in providing high quality care for a variety of incidents that are likely to occur in the waterpark environment. Aquatic Center staff spend hundreds of hours each year training to deal with emergencies at the water park. This training was useful in staff’s response to this very unusual incident. We are proud of the Aquatic Center staff and their prompt response. The City is providing counseling services for staff members affected by the traumatic experience. We encourage others who were negatively impacted by this incident to seek assistance.
The Aquatic Center welcomes patrons with a wide range of abilities. As part of our
public service, there is no admission charge for personal care attendants.We thank the public for the many comments about the professional response of our staff. We continue to wish the child and his family a full and quick recovery.