Going on a water slide taller than Niagara Falls might seem like every young boy’s dream. However, for the parents of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab, this ride would result in their worst nightmare.
The incident occurred on the 17-story Verrückt waterslide at the Kansas City Schlitterbahn Water Park. The Verrückt is the tallest water slide in the world, sending riders at a speed of 60-70 mph down a height of 168 feet and 7 inches.
Here’s an image of the slide, from Schlitterbahn’s website:
The Washington Post reports that Caleb was at the park with his father, mother and siblings when he decided to take a turn on the massive slide. A freak accident occurred, resulting in his death.
Caleb’s body was found at the bottom of the slide, blood filling the landing pool. Park officials confirmed Schwab died while riding the Verrückt.
This is Caleb Schwab, the young boy killed on the Verruckt water slide at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City pic.twitter.com/E8PXViqa6t
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) August 8, 2016
An eyewitness told KSHB:
“The boy [was seen] going down the steep 168-foot drop of the world’s tallest water slide Sunday afternoon, then going airborne over the next hill, colliding with a safety net.”
Since the incident, the park has been shut down and a full investigation is underway. Winter Prosapio, a spokesperson for the Schlitterbahn Water Park, told the Kansas City Star:
“We honestly don’t know what’s happened. This is not something we’ve experienced [before].”
Tragically, if older regulations had still been in place, Caleb would not have been allowed on the ride. USA Today reports that originally, the slide required riders to be at least 14 years old and 54 inches tall — but in 2014, park owners decided the age requirement was unnecessary.
They eliminated it.
This is not the first time the park has raised concerns. When the park originally opened two years ago, the Verrückt had to be partially torn down and redesigned after test rafts flew off the side of the slide.
In a 2014 interview concerning the safety of the slide, ride co-creator and Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry told USA Today:
“It’s dangerous, but it’s a safe dangerous now.”
“Schlitterbahn is a family water park, but this isn’t a family ride. It’s for the thrill seekers of the world, people into extreme adventure.”
WATER PARK DEATH:
– Schlitterbahn water park
– 12 y/o dies on waterslide
– Park closed
– Investigation underway pic.twitter.com/ciuqxceWsG
— Joel Franco (@OfficialJoelF) August 7, 2016
Since Caleb’s passing, his mother Michele and his father, Republican Rep. Scott Schwab of Olathe, Kansas, have released this statement:
“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.”
The investigation is still underway.