KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KXAN/AP) — An investigation is underway at a Kansas water park after a boy died on the world’s tallest water slide.
The 10-year-old boy was killed at the Schlitterbahn Park in Kansas City on Sunday. Police say Caleb Schwab was riding the Verruckt slide, which is German for “insane.”
The slide stands more than 168 feet tall, higher than Niagara Falls, with a 264 stair climb leading to the top. Opened in 2014, Guinness World Records certified innovator Jeff Henry’s water slide as the tallest in the world.
Authorities say the circumstances surrounding the boy’s death are still being investigated. The park closed immediately following the incident and will remain closed during the investigation. Customers were given their money back.
Caleb is the son of State Rep. Scott Schwab, who released a statement with his wife asking for privacy while they grieve.
“Since the day he was born, he brought abundant joy to our family and all those he came in contact with,” said Schwab.
Two years in the making, the slide was designed and constructed by the Schlitterbahn Development Group. The general concept was designed by Schlitterbahn’s prinicpal Jeff Henry, who has been with the company since 1979.
Schlitterbahn is based in New Braunfels, Texas, which does not have the Verruckt slide. Schlitterbahn’s three Texas parks have had 62 reported injuries in the past five years with 246 injuries at water parks statewide.
“I think by and large, [water rides] are mostly safe, if you look at the thousands of people that use them compared to the injuries and deaths,” said personal injury attorney Rockne Onstad.
Onstad says he’s seen numerous cases where water park staff members were not supervising properly, leading people to get hurt.
“Parents need to keep an eye on their kids and can’t assume that the park’s employees are going to do everything, because they don’t,” said Onstad.
Onstad also remembers a case he worked on in Houston. He says a woman suffered a brain injury at Waterworld in Houston on a “defectively designed” water slide. He says the suit ended with a $6.8 million settlement.
“It happened very shortly after the park opened up,” said Onstad.
He says the other water park injury cases he’s been involved with in cCentral Texas ended with confidential settlements.
Nationwide, each amusement ride is required to have a compliance sticker before opening, which means the ride has undergone an inspection and is following the legal requirements for safety standards.