What better treat is there in this world than spending a steamy hot Sunday afternoon in August at a water park? It's a treat most of us have not only enjoyed, but looked forward to over the years. Nobody expects anything dangerous to happen; maybe pruned fingers or swimmers ear, but that's it. Tragically, 10-year-old Caleb Schwab's visit to Shlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City ended horrifically on Sunday when he was killed on the Verruckt water slide. Police have now released information about what caused the Schlitterbahn accident, but it can hardly offer any sort of relief to his poor parents.
Note: Details on Schwab's death may be disturbing to some.
According to the police report, Caleb Schwab died of a neck injury and was decapitated while riding the 168-foot Verruckt water slide. He was found dead at the bottom of the slide, and the two women who were with him were treated for minor injuries. Neither were related to Schwab, but his parents were with him at the park that day. Kelsey Friedrichsen, a witness who was at the park at the time of the accident, told People;
It looked like he must have somehow been ejected from his seat, bounced around between the netting and the slide and just slid down. He would have fallen down without the raft.
The Verruckt (which is German for "insane") water slide was promoted as the tallest water slide in the world when it opened in June. The ride, while available for riders over the height of 54 inches tall and who are able to understand the two page safety warning park employees must read them before they can enter, is actually meant for "thrill seekers", according to Jeff Henry, the co-owner of Schlitterbahn and creator of the Verruckt water slide.
Schlitterbahn is a family water park, but this isn't a family ride. It's for thrill seekers of the world, people into extreme adventure.
The Verruckt water slide requires riders to be strapped in with seatbelts and is designed more like a roller coaster, with netting surrounding the slide to prevent rafts from catapulting into the air. During testing of the water slide, there was video footage of rafts doing exactly that. In fact, People reports that the initial opening date in 2014 was moved several times due to glitches with the ride. An excerpt of a first person account of riding the Verruckt water slide for the first time published by the Associated Press gave an idea of how uniquely terrifying the water slide truly could be.
It wasn't until I stood on the platform waiting for my heart to stop pounding that I began to get a little anxious about boarding the raft — the same kind that during testing just weeks earlier had lifted up and flown over the edge, destroying upon its impact with the ground both the vessel and the sandbag people it was carrying.
The water slide was immediately closed after Caleb Schwab's accident and remains closed as investigators continuing to assess what happened.
Whatever the investigators discover, the news will come too late for Caleb Schwab; a kid who just wanted to try out a big, cool water slide.
Our thoughts are with his parents.