Water Wiggles were well-known toys that were banned because they killed a child. How did this devastating incident happen?
The last thing most people would consider dangerous is a child’s toy. But again and again young people die because they could choke on small toys.
But one toy went too far when even the boy’s father couldn’t get it out of his throat. The story of Water Wiggle led to an ugly public trial, the toy’s demise and eventual demise.
What happened to the water shake?
After a boy choked on it, shaking water was made illegal.
In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, Water Wiggle was a very popular product from Wham-O Manufacturing. When it was first sold in 1962 it was a huge success for the company. In fact, in 17 years, Wham-O has sold about 2.5 million water wiggles.
Although it was an old piece of technology, the toy wasn’t your typical other-dimensional playmate. It consisted of an aluminum waterjet nozzle with a bell-shaped plastic head and a 7-foot plastic tube connecting the two.
The toy was made to connect to a garden hose. At the time, it sold for about $3.50 and was designed to make bathing and time in the water fun for everyone.
But everything went wrong when a child died from the toy. In the end, it was pulled from all stores, and parents were told to throw away their children’s water shakers for their safety.
How Did Water Wiggle Cause Jon Christopher McCabe’s Death?
After the death of Jon Christopher McCabe, jiggle toys were made illegal.
On March 25, 1978, Jon was 4 years old and was playing with the toys in his backyard with some other children. But the bell-shaped head accidentally fell out of the nozzle, and the nozzle got stuck in his mouth.
Joey, his 7-year-old brother, turned off the water and ran in to get their father immediately. Jon’s father did whatever he could think of to get the nozzle off. They say he cut the hose with a butter knife. The water shake, on the other hand, didn’t move at all.
McCabe accidentally drowned and ended up dying. As he breathed his last in his father’s arms, his lungs and body were filled with water.
Trial after McCabe’s death?
The horrific manner in which McCabe died led to a $1 million lawsuit against Wham-O. The parents are seeking more than $1 million in damages and attorneys’ fees. The people who worked on the toy at Wham-O agreed it could be dangerous.
Even Joey, who was 10 years old at the time of the trial, spoke in court. Watching his younger brother fight in the backyard made him think back to the last time he saw him alive.
Still, McCabe’s death wasn’t the first time Water Wiggle had been involved in a crime. Marcus Maloney, who was only 3 years old, died in the same Water Wiggle accident in 1975. After a legal battle and a money settlement, the case was over.
After the fall, about 85,000 units of water wobbles were returned. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the sale of Water Wiggles on April 13, 1978.
In 1986, Wham-O made a version of Water Wiggle that was safer. But the product never achieved the fame of its predecessor. Their website no longer talks about the toy.