A 10 year-old boy was apparently decapitated on what is billed as the world’s tallest water slide in Kansas City, KS last week, which is increasing the spotlight on how closely water slides and amusement park rides are inspected across the country.
The boy’s name was Caleb Schwab, who was the son of a Kansas state legislator. Their family had visited the Schlitterbahn WaterPark in Kansas City on Aug. 6.
According to witnesses, who were on the water slide earlier in the day, the boy’s headless body washed down the water slide with a large quantity of blood. Police stated that the boy died of a fatal neck injury.
In the wake of the tragedy, a Kansas legislator is demanding closer regulation of water park slides to keep the public safe. He noted that Kansas has weak ride regulation. State law allows government inspectors to do random inspections, but employees in that department were cut a few years ago.
The water slide, known as the Verruckt, has rafts that carry several people, and it makes a 170 foot drop at speeds as high as 70 MPH. this is followed by a surge up a small hill/hump and then a 50 foot drop to a deep pool. Since the alleged decapitation occurred, state investigators have taking down netting that was hold in place with supports about the 50 foot section from the hump to the pool.
Some media sources have reported that the boy flew off the raft on the hump and his head caught on the netting.
The water park had a private inspection in June and that included the Verruckt, according to the Kansas Department of Labor. Documents provided by the agency to the Associated Press stated that all park rides had met safety and insurance guidelines. However, the documents noted that the ‘survey reflects the conditions observed or found at the time of the inspection only, and does not certify safety or integrity of the rides and attractions, physical operations or management practices at any time in the future.”
Kansas state law mandates that amusement park rides be inspected annually by the parks themselves, and the state randomly performs audits of the inspection records. The last audit for this park was June 2012.
Our hearts go out to the devastated family in this terrible water slide accident. Unfortunately, amusement park and water slide accidents are not uncommon; in Virginia, our personal injury attorneys have worked on several of these cases over the years. Virginia amusement park accidents and Virginia water slide accidents happen every year, such as at Ocean Breeze Water Park, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and King’s Dominion. In many cases, the facility is held liable for the injuries that their guests sustain on their property.
Horror stories such as the case in Kansas City make one wonder: What is being done to make these tragedies less likely to occur? The Consumer Product Safety Commission states that up to 7000 people are hurt on amusement park rides each year. Our Virginia amusement park accident lawyers hope that the CPSC and other federal agencies will step up enforcement at amusement parks and water parks across the US and soon.