Who was Adam Walsh? He was the son of John Walsh, best known for his successful series, America's Most Wanted (Fox, 1988-2012) and currently Hunted with John Walsh (CNN, 2014-Present). John Walsh was propelled into crime-fighting after the murder and beheading of Adam Walsh.
Adam John Walsh (November 14, 1974 – July 27, 1981) was a six-year-old American boy who was abducted from a Sears department store at the Hollywood Mall in Hollywood, Florida, on July 27, 1981. His severed head was found a little over two weeks later, on August 10, 1981, in a drainage canal off of the Florida Turnpike.
As someone who grew up in the wake of the 1981 kidnapping and murder of little Adam, the image of the sweet little boy smiling from beneath his too-big baseball hat has haunted me for 30 years. This baseball picture was widely circulated throughout the media at the time of the kidnapping, and for many mothers, it served as a reminder to hold tightly to their kids and trust nobody.[As an onomatological aside, Walsh is a common Irish surname, meaning "Briton" or "foreigner," literally "Welshman," taken to Ireland by British (Welsh, Cornish and Cumbrian) soldiers during and after the Norman invasion of Ireland.]
As a mother now, I have forced myself to shake off some of my Adam Walsh fears. I realized that I needed to allow my boys to use public restrooms without screaming "EVERYTHING OKAY IN THERE?" every 10 seconds. I needed to learn to let them cross the street without my all-clear. I needed to fight the urge to homeschool them whenever I read a story of a shooting or child predator.
I started relying on statistical data and odds relative to stranger abductions in this quest. For the first time ever, I have consciously suppressed my helicopter tendencies. Most days, it is physically painful, but I am determined to ease up or I know my children will end up fleeing to Alaska to escape me.
I must say, though, this thing would be a whole lot easier if our last name wasn't Walsh. Source.
“[The Adam Walsh case] created a nation of petrified kids and paranoid parents,” says Richard Moran, criminologist at Mount Holyoke College. “Kids used to be able to go out and organize a stickball game, and now all playdates and the social lives of children are arranged and controlled by the parents.”
Even despite the decline in actual abductions, Moran says, “the fear still lingers today.”
His body, which was intact, was found about 10-15 yards away from the location of the attack. It is believed that he was drowned by the alligator, which was 4-7 feet long. It took authorities about 17 hours to find and recover the body.
Sean Copeland, 51, and his 11-year-old son Brodie were among the more than 80 people killed when the truck zig-zagged through a screaming crowd for more than a mile along the Promenade des Anglais.
Then the boy with a bat returned in a big way when on August 7, 2016, Caleb Schwab, the 10-year-old son of Kansas state representative Scott Schwab, died riding when he was thrown from the Verrückt. Schwab was decapitated. He was one of three passengers on a raft with two women, one of whom suffered a broken jaw, and the other a broken bone in her face requiring stitches in her eye. The park was closed for two days following the incident, pending inspection results that took place during the time. The park reopened on August 10 but the ride itself has been shut down indefinitely (at least for the rest of the season), pending further investigation. (Graphic details of Caleb's death were carried by some media.)
In the other recent accidents around the country, one child has been killed, another suffered a brain injury and at least two others were hospitalized.
Idlewild and SoakZone spokesman Jeff Croushore provided few details regarding the accident, but he said it happened on the Rollo Coaster, an old-style wooden ride, about midway to the finish, CNN-affiliate WTAE reported.
Recent accidents of amusement park rides have been summarized by CNN (with dates added by me to clarify the chronology):
The Pennsylvania amusement ride accident comes after several others across the nation.
A 10-year-old boy died on a water slide at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on Sunday, August 7, 2016.
Two riders were injured when a launch cable detached at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, that same day, August 7, 2016.
Three children fell from a Ferris wheel at a Tennessee county fair on Monday, August 8, 2016, critically injuring two of them.
On Thursday, a 6-year-old girl remained in critical condition with a brain injury and a 16-year-old girl had been upgraded to stable condition.
A soldier who lost both legs serving in Iraq fell to his death from a roller coaster in upstate New York in 2011. Sgt. James Hackemer, 29, was riding the Ride of Steel roller coaster at Darien Lake Theme Park Resort when he plummeted about 200 feet to the ground. Hackemer's remains were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
A teen was decapitated by the Batman roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia in 2008. He was struck by a train after he scaled two fences around the ride to retrieve his lost hat.
Kaitlyn Lasitter lost both feet when a free-fall thrill ride malfunctioned at the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom Amusement Park in Louisville in 2007. A cord wrapped around the then-13-year-old's feet and severed them at the ankles on the Superman Tower of Power.
A group of high-schoolers' pre-graduation outing turned into a nightmare when a water slide collapsed at Waterworld California in 1997. The accident injured at least 30 people and killed a teenage girl. The girl's family settled a lawsuit against Waterworld USA and its parent company Premier Parks Inc. for $1.7 million three years later, according to the Los Angeles Times.
James A. Young II, a 45-year-old special-education teacher, lost his cell phone and wallet when riding a roller coaster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, in 2015. When Young jumped over a fence into the restricted area under the roller coaster to look for his belongings, he was hit and killed by a coaster train.
In 2013, Rosy Esparza was thrown out of her seat on the Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas and died from multiple injuries. Her family filed a civil wrongful-death lawsuit accusing Six Flags of negligence. The ride was closed for nearly two months and reopened in September 2013 with improved safety measures.
The Adam Walsh Effect: 2016 Edition
In a year that is rapidly becoming filled with terrorist attacks, mass shootings, and violent incidents, it remains to be seen what impact this new wave of publishing young boys' photographs who died tragically will have. The public's attention is being overwhelmed with dreadful news, and the overall ripple repercussions of the Adam Walsh Effect revisited are unknown.