Another tragic incident has taken the life of an amusement park visitor, this time a ten-year-old Kansas boy. The boy, Caleb Schwab, died while riding the Verrückt waterslide at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas. The exact details of Caleb’s death haven’t been officially released (and the public might never learn them, for a number of reasons), but reports suggest the situation may have been particularly gruesome. Two women were also injured in the same incident.
We hope with all sincerity that Caleb’s family and the other victims of the Verrückt tragedy are eventually able to heal. Unfortunately, we also expect that if the full details of this case ever come to light, they’ll reveal that this tremendous misfortune was preventable, and for that reason we hope the responsible parties are held accountable.
Since it opened in July of 2014, Verrückt has been recognized as the tallest waterslide in the world. Riders, secured to rafts, plunge down an initial flume drop of seventeen stories then shoot upward and over a five-story drop before a final plunge.
While acclaimed by thrill seekers, the ride faced trouble early on. Sections of the ride were rebuilt to rectify problems not revealed during its design, and the opening was delayed more than once while safety concerns were addressed. But at least one published report suggests that the ride originated less as a well-thought-out concept and more as a publicity stunt. When some of the outsize ride’s outsized safety risks were addressed, others were created.
County records suggest that construction of the ride was approved not based on whether it was safe for park guests, but on whether its presence would disturb neighboring property owners. Continuing operations of the ride were also not subject to rigorous review. The state of Kansas, which some feel has lax amusement park regulations, is reported not to have inspected Verrückt in the two years that it’s been operating.
There has been greater concern over the general safety of amusement park rides in recent years. Although firm statistics on deaths and injuries are difficult to pin down, it’s safe to estimate that just among children there are more than 4,000 injuries on amusement park rides annually. On average, three to four people die each year on these rides. As one writer has pointed out, this means that more people are killed on American thrill rides each year than die from shark attacks.
Sadly, the Verrückt incident is not unique—it’s only received more attention than most. Here in Texas, we’ve seen a fatality of our own this year, when a teenage girl was killed and two others injured by a ride at a carnival in El Paso. In a separate accident, a Nebraska girl was essentially scalped by a ride and also might never see again. A spate of serious injuries involving amusement park rides has been reported this month alone. It’s enough to make people think twice about climbing aboard rides they previously considered only frightening, not legitimately unsafe.
When you have been injured or someone you love has been injured or killed by an amusement park ride, water park ride, carnival ride, or even a ride installed in a shopping mall, it’s important to hold the operators responsible. This is not just for your own recovery and peace of mind, but also for all the others out there who might also be placed at risk by the continued operation of that unsafe equipment.
At Denena Points, PC, our attorneys have experience with carnival and amusement park accident cases, and we’ll put our knowledge to work for you. Give us a call today to set up a free consultation to discuss your case. Our number is 713-807-9500, or you can complete our contact form below. You can also launch the LiveChat application from any page of this website to have some of your questions answered right now.