KANSAS CITY – Police say a young child died on a popular water slide at a local water park Sunday.
The Kansas City, KS Police Department said the child died while riding the , dubbed the world’s tallest water slide. The cause of death has not been confirmed.
Caleb Schwab, the son of Olathe representative Scott Schwab, has been identified as the person killed in the incident.
The family issued a statement Sunday night:
“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.”
In a tweet, Police Chief Terry Zeigler called the death accidental.
In a media briefing Sunday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Schlitterbahn said the park’s rides are inspected every day and are checked by independent inspection agencies at the beginning of the season.
The park was cleared following the accident and closed while investigators from multiple agencies arrived on scene.
Water park officials say Schlitterbahn will be closed Monday. Subsequently, the Verruckt is closed pending a full investigation.
Kansas statute requires that amusement rides must be closed immediately following a serious injury. However, Kansas statute doesn’t explicitly state that slides are considered amusement rides.
An amusement ride is defined by the state as “any mechanical or electrical device that carries or conveys passengers along, around or over a fixed or restricted route or course or within a defined area for the purpose of giving its passengers amusement, pleasure, thrills or excitement.”
The statute goes on to list rides included in the definition and rides not included. Water slides or slides are not listed in either category.
Verruckt opened in July 2014 after its opening date had been pushed back for additional safety testing. The slide was scheduled to open in May but the official launch date was delayed three times.
The slide is 17-stories tall and riders have to navigate 264 steps to the top before taking the 168-foot plunge.
In 2014, the slides co-creator and co-owner of the Texas-based Schlitterbahn franchise said the launch date was delayed for a variety of issues.
“We had so many issues on the engineering side,” Jeff Henry said. “Our correction coefficients were all off. Models didn’t show air and water friction. A lot of our math was based on roller coasters at first and that didn’t translate to a water slide like this. No one had ever done anything like this before.”
A weight and occupant limit was set for Verruckt. Three riders are allowed on at a single time and the total weight limit is 550 pounds. These changes were made after multiple safety run-throughs before the slide was open to the public.
Schlitterbahn’s website states the height requirement to ride Verruckt is at least 54 inches tall.