Horrible news is coming out from Kansas City, Kansas, tonight as a 10-year-old son of a Kansas state representative was killed while he was riding the Verrückt slide at the Schlitterbahn water park. The victim was Caleb Schwab, son of the Kansas state Representative Scott Schwab. It’s currently unknown what exactly happened this afternoon on Verrückt that caused this tragic incident.
Winter Prosapio, spokesperson for Schlitterbahn, said at a press conference earlier today that “We are saddened to share that a young boy died on Verrückt this afternoon. Given that safety is our first priority we have closed our Kansas City park and have closed the ride pending a full investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.”
Verrüct is the world’s longest waterslide and tallest water slide in the world. Schlitterbahn boasts it as a “jaw dropping 168 foot 7 inch structure, only to be blasted back up a second massive hill and then sent down yet another gut wrenching 50 foot drop for the ultimate in water slide thrills.” The construction and testing of Verrückt were covered on the Travel Channel program “Xtreme Waterparks”. During the program, they had documented issues with the attraction during the sandbag testing phase that when the raft would go up the second hill it would become airborne, but they did work this issue out with extensive testing which did delay the slide’s opening.
Schlitterbahn notes on the Verrückt attraction page, which was removed after the incident that “The entire group together must meet the weight and height requirements (every rider must be at least 54 inches tall and your group must weigh between 400-550 pounds”.
The incident at Schlitterbahn was a freak accident, and statistically, the rides at all water parks are safe. Incidents rarely occur of this nature at waterparks and theme parks making it one of the safest recreation activities in the world. Schlitterbahn shut down after the accident and will remain closed Monday. The slide will be closed pending a full investigation.
Update 1: We have received unconfirmed reports that the victim was decapitated in today’s horrific incident at Schlitterbahn. Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick’s office sent out the following email to colleagues this evening:
It is with an absolutely broken heart we have to ask for prayers for the Schwab family who suddenly and tragically lost their sweet and energetic son in an accident today. No words can express the pain we all feel for this terrible tragedy.
We will share remembrance details when we receive them.”
We have received a statement from Pastor Clint Sprague from Representative Scott Schwab.
Michele and I want to thank the Olathe and Kansas City, Kansas, communities and all of our friends and family for their outpouring of support and compassion as it relates to the sudden loss of our son, Caleb Thomas Schwab.
Since the day he was born, he brought abundant joy to our family and all those he came in contact with. As we try to mend our home with him no longer with us, we are comforted knowing he believed in our Savior Jesus, and they are forever together now. We will see him another day.
Your continued prayers are welcome and appreciated. We appreciate your understanding of our family’s need for privacy during this difficult time of grieving.
Schlitterbahn’s website has been updated to reflect the closure on Monday, August 8th. The Verrückt attraction page has been reinstated after being down earlier today and the page now states: Verrückt, the World’s Tallest Waterslide, is closed at this time. Park officials have said that they will not hesitate to keep the slide closed until it is known what went wrong, and.the park can correct the issue. The park will remain closed on Monday while investigations are ongoing.
According to @BrianAbelTV crews were seen Sunday removing nets along the ride. The nets are believed to have played a role in the accident, and the consensus is that the boy hit the nets somehow. There were also tarps covering a section of the slide that were covered in blood. While many are saying that children had to be 14 to ride the attraction, that rule was never in place. Schlitterbahn initially talked about putting an age requirement of 14 on the ride, but a height requirement of 54 inches was deemed sufficient at ride opening last year.
Kansas City Police have released more information about the incident Monday, calling the boy’s death a “fatal neck injury at the end of the ride.” The two other passengers who were riding in the raft with Caleb suffered minor facial injuries. They were not related to the victim. People Magazine has apparently recived confirmation from police sources that Caleb was indeed decapatiated. The Parents of the victim have retained the lawyers Michael Rader and Edward Robertson Jr. of Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson. Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson litigaite in serious injury and premises liability among other fields.
Schlitterbahn released mid-Monday a statement with plans to tentatively reopen on Wednesday. The slide will remain closed during the course of the investigation. Schlitterbahn is also providing grief counseling to employees and guests and asked that anyone impacted can contact them at 913-312-3091 to schedule a visit with a grief counselor. As of this time, it’s currently unknown what exactly happened on Verrückt. Schlitterbahn has also repeatedly stressed that all rides are inspected daily before opening.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the affected family. Stay tuned to Behind the Thrills for more on this story.