Politician's Son 'Decapitated' On Waterslide

Cheryl Sanders
August 11, 2016

Caleb Schwab, the son of a state legislator in Kansas, died while riding the world's tallest water slide.

In a statement Monday evening, the Kansas City police department said the boy died of a "fatal neck injury at the end of the ride, in the pool".

The ride will remain closed for the rest of the year, and the water park is scheduled to reopen Thursday.

According to Sandrarose.com, the velcro straps that were supposed to keep young Caleb secured in the raft while it was in motion also failed and several people who have experienced the slide said it wasn't the first time the velcro straps failed.

Caleb Schwab died while riding a water slide at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, police said.

The person was speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the death of Caleb Schwab Sunday on the "Verruckt" raft ride at the Schlitterbahn WaterPark in Kansas City, Kansas. State law leaves it to the Kansas Department of Labor to adopt rules and regulations relating to certification and inspection of rides, adding that a permanent amusement ride must be scrutinized at least once a year by "a qualified inspector".

The park reopened Wednesday except for the sprawling section including the waterslide, although its towering profile greeting visitors as soon as they drove through the entrance.

Paul Oberhauser told local television station KCTV that the safety restraints on his raft on the Verruckt waterslide weren't working properly when he rode it on July 26 at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark. The ride then climbs a second hill, plunges into a 50-foot drop and then continues to a stop. Two women were also injured in the accident.

When it initially opened, the park advertised the ride for only people 14 years and older.

Witness Kelsey Friedrichse told People that she and her boyfriend were on their way up the huge water slide when they saw crowds gathering at the bottom of the 51-metre ride. Each "Verruckt" rider must be at least 54 inches tall, and the combined body weight of the riders on each raft is limited to 400 to 550 pounds. A video shot by his wife shows it loose at the ride's end.

Two other adult female riders who were not related to the boy, suffered minor facial injuries and were taken to a hospital.

Another rider, Kenneth Conrad, told WDAF-TV that during his trip down the waterslide past year with a friend, the friend's shoulder strap came "completely off".

He said he had to grip handles by his legs to hold on and told park staff what happened.

The Nebraska man said he reported the matter to park workers. "It's the scariest thing I've done", he said.

But she said the visit came with a twinge of unease, given Sunday's tragedy.

A spokeswoman for the waterpark declined to discuss the circumstances of the boy's death.

Michele and I want to thank the Olathe, and Kansas City, KS communities and all our friends and family for their out pouring of support and compassion as it relates to the sudden loss of our son Caleb Thomas Schwab.

"My 9 year old rode this less than two weeks ago".

Jon Rust, a professor of textile engineering at North Carolina State University, said the material used on the straps, commonly called hook and loop, isn't created to keep a person in the seat.

Ken Martin, a Richmond, Virginia-based amusement park safety consultant, questioned whether the straps were appropriate for what he called "nothing more than a roller coaster with water". It also can get old and degrade with use.

"It's got to be used in a safe manner, and that doesn't include stopping someone's fall or preventing someone's ejection", Rust said.

"Shocked - it was just surreal to know we were just there - just on it - I have pictures still on my phone", Erin said.

Since the incident, 2014 footage of the ride before it opened from Travel Channel's XtremeWaterparksseries has emerged, revealing problems with the rafts even then (video below).

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