A Mom Was Found Dead At Ohio Amusement Park After Riding Roller Coaster With Her Son

An Ohio family has been rocked by an unexpected tragedy. Dawn Renee Jankovic was a healthy 47-year-old mom of a 17-year-old when she went on The Voyager, a wooden roller coaster at the Holiday World & Splashin' Safari theme park on July of 2021.
When the ride was finished and it was time for the mom and son to get off, son Gunnar discovered his mom had lost consciousness. Staff worked quickly to get Dawn transferred to a local hospital, but she later died. Gunnar, who shared a love of roller coasters and rock music with his mom, was devastated by the loss.

An autopsy determined how exactly Dawn incurred the injuries that contributed to her death. Among her causes of death, "amusement park roller coaster" is listed.

An Ohio teen was shocked when he and his mom rode on a roller coaster and she lost consciousness during the ride. Gunnar Merker, 17, was visiting Holiday World & Splashin' Safari on June 4, 2021, with his mom, Dawn Renee Jankovic. The two shared a passion for riding roller coasters.

"She was fine, the whole entire day," Gunnar told Fox 8.

"The only thing we know right now is … They went on the ride and you know, at some point, she lost consciousness," said Gary Merker, the teen’s father.

Dawn and Gunnar went on The Voyage wooden roller coaster, one they'd been on before. "Him and her are both roller coaster enthusiasts," Gary said.

"They go all over the place to different amusement parks. That was their thing and yeah, they’d been on it before … Just don’t know what happened this time."

Employees at the theme park called for help as Gunnar disembarked the ride and realized his mom wasn't OK. She was transported to Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center, where she was declared dead.

"I feel bad," Gary said.

"This kid witnessed everything and he was there by himself before I could actually get to him."

Hi, I’d like to take this time and thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers, the reaching out to me, the go fund me...

Posted by Dawn Renee Jankovic on Thursday, July 1, 2021

A GoFundMe page was started as the family worked to transport Dawn's remains from Indiana to Ohio. It raised three times its goal, allowing Dawn's family to lay her to rest.

An autopsy determined three contributing factors to her death. Dubois County Coroner Katie Schuck listed the causes of death as exsanguination, avulsion of the right internal thoracic artery, and amusement park roller coaster. Renee suffered severe blood loss in the artery, located on the outside of the back of the rib cage.

"It had nothing to do with the ride itself, but it basically was just the force," the coroner explained.

"It was just a reaction her body had from riding the ride. It had nothing to do with a malfunction or anything, as far as safety and that type of thing."

The death was ruled accidental.

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