Six months ago, 10-year-old Caleb Schwab died when his harness broke on the world's tallest waterslide, the Verrückt, at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City.
The 17-story Verrückt first opened in 2014, but not before overcoming several issues, such as rafts flying off of the slide during test rides. And even after the ride had opened to the public, riders came forward with their own horror stories of how their harnesses broke.
Caleb's dad, Scott, is a Kansas State Representative. On the day they went to the waterpark, families of state legislators got in free. Upon arriving to the park, Caleb and his 12-year-old brother, Nathan, ran straight for the ride.
According to ABC News, the last words their dad spoke to Caleb were:
“Brothers stick together.”
But because each raft needed to have a certain amount of weight inside of it, approximately 400 to 550 lbs., Caleb and Nathan were forced to ride in separate rafts.
Nathan's raft went first, and he waited at the bottom of the slide for his little brother to meet him there.
According to earlier reports, Caleb Schwab was ejected from his seat after his harness broke open, which ejected him into the safety netting where he was decapitated.
Now, Caleb's parents are speaking out for the first time to ABC News. His mom remembers her oldest son's screams when he witnessed what happened to his brother:
“He was screaming, 'He flew from Verrückt, he flew from Verrückt.'”
The shock from it all made it nearly impossible for Nathan to explain what had happened, but nobody would let Caleb's parents through to see it with their own eyes.
Michelle Schwab told ABC News that one gentlemen wouldn't allow her get close enough to see what was going on:
“He just kept saying, 'No trust me you don't want to go any further.'”
Scott admitted that he couldn't let himself believe what had happened to his son until someone said it out loud.
The father of four remembers asking someone over and over if Caleb was dead. Finally, that person confirmed it with his own words:
"I was like, 'I just need to hear you say it. Is my son dead?' And he just shook his head, and I just said, 'I need to hear it from you. Is he dead?' And he said, 'Yes, your son is dead.'
They just put us on a golf cart, dropped us off at our van and said, you know, 'Sorry, you lost your son.' It was surreal. I hardly remember driving home."
After settling with the park for an undisclosed amount, the Schwab family is now relying on their faith, old videos, and photos of Caleb to help them move forward.
However, as Scott told ABC News, there are some days he can't bear to look at the photos of his beloved son:
“There are times where you're just like, 'I can't look at that right now.' Then there are other times you can't sleep, you want to look at it. ”
Since the settlement, spokespersons for the Schlitterbahn Waterpark released a statement which reads, in part:
All of us at Schlitterbahn have been heartbroken over the tragedy that occurred on Verruckt.
In our 50 years of providing an environment for families and friends to gather, we've never experienced this kind of devastating event. The safety of our staff and our guests is our top priority. We are parents and grandparents ourselves, and many of us had ridden Verruckt with our own children and grandchildren over the years it operated. At Schlitterbahn we take safety very seriously. We support effective guidelines that increase guest and staff safety.
The statement continued to reiterate the importance of safety in the park for the present and in the future.
No criminal charges have been filed so far.
There are so many things Scott and Michelle miss about their 10-year-old son, but the real reason they decided to speak out after losing Caleb is to thank the people from all around the world who reached out to them and to let them know that while they are hurting, they are also going to be okay.
While the park has since reopened, the Verrückt will remain permanently closed until the investigation is complete, at which point the ride will then be torn down.