Governor wants whitewater center review after visitor dies


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says there needs to be a review of oversight for the U.S. National Whitewater Center following the death of an Ohio teenager who contracted an infection after she visited the park.

McCrory told The Charlotte Observer on Monday (http://bit.ly/28ZeKZV) that there should be a total re-examination of how facilities like the whitewater center are handled in comparison with swimming pools.

The governor said in an interview with the newspaper that he plans to talk more with the state Department of Health and Human Services, based on what he has read.

“My heart sinks for the young girl that lost her life and think there could be some lessons learned based upon the bacteria that was found,” McCrory said.

Seitz, who was from Westerville, Ohio, was visiting North Carolina with her church group. Her only known underwater exposure was thought to be when her raft overturned at the whitewater center.

Mecklenburg County Health Director Marcus Plescia said at a news conference that his agency doesn’t have the capacity to analyze the water for the type of amoeba responsible for the death of 18-year-old Lauren Seitz. He said that kind of testing can be done by an outside group, which he said in this case is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Plescia said the center doesn’t provide his department with any records on how it treats its waters, but he said the center does keep records.

“We are very interested in exploring this idea of other ways we can regulate the whitewater center so that people will feel safer going there,” Plescia said. “But, I have to be honest. We have to be careful about really understanding what we can and can’t do, and what we can and can’t monitor.”

Plescia says the center does a cleaning once a year during the winter months. He said that cleaning usually takes four to six weeks. He said the current cleanup is already underway.

While the center has temporarily suspended rafting and kayaking, all other activities are open for operation, and it says its Fourth of July celebration will proceed as scheduled. A spokesman for the center didn’t return a telephone call seeking comment Monday.

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Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com

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