NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Monday, August 8, 2016, 6:53 PM
The Kansas water slide where a 10-year-old boy died from a fatal neck injury Sunday once carried an age requirement that would have forbidden him from riding — and the attraction faced multiple delays for safety concerns before debuting in 2014.
Kansas City, Kan. police said Caleb Thomas Schwab, died from a fatal neck injury while visiting the park with his father, state Rep. Scott Schwab.
One witness said the young child was decapitated from the accident.
Esteban Castenada, who had just been on the dangerous slide hours earlier with his cousin’s 14-year-old daughter, said he saw a gruesome scene after the accident, with Schwab’s decapitated body washing down the ride, ABC News reported.
Two women that were on the ride with the 10-year-old also suffered facial injuries. Police are treating Caleb’s death as a “civil matter” rather than a criminal investigation, officer Cameron Morgan told reporters.
It remains unclear what caused the death of Caleb Thomas Schwab (pictured), who died while visiting the park with his father, state Rep. Scott Schwab. His autopsy began Monday.
When the Verrückt opened at Kansas City’s Schlitterbahn Waterpark, it carried a Guinness World Record — for tallest water slide — plus a restriction against younger riders.
But less than a month after its opening, the park removed the age requirement, replacing it with only a height requirement of 54 inches.
“Fourteen-year-olds can come in many different heights and weights,” Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio told the Daily News on Monday.
“And safety of rides really depends on height and weights. So that’s the important requirement.”
The Verrückt at Schlitterbahn Waterpark, which is the world’s tallest water slide.
She declined comment on why the park initially cut off riders younger than 14.
The boy died after riding the Verrückt — which is 168 feet and seven inches tall, higher than Niagara Falls.
It is also unknown if the boy met the height requirement for the ride, and if he ventured onto it alone. The Verrückt requires two or three riders on its rafts, for a combined weight of 400 to 550 pounds, according to the park.
The ride — named after the German word for “insane” — shoots riders down its record-breaking height at 50 miles per hour.
The Verrückt opened in July 2014, after months of delays over reported safety concerns. WDAF reported there was “speculation” at the time that “riders go unsafely airborne on the 17-story -tall ride.”
The park acknowledged some glitches with the slide, and even canceled two media previews due to a problem with its conveyor.
Schwab’s death is the first one tied to the Verrückt, Prosapio said, but she could not immediately state if the slide had caused any other serious injuries.
The park is closed through Wednesday for investigation. Prosaprio said rides are inspected daily.
Kansas State Rep. Scott Schwab, whose son Caleb died Sunday.
(Kansas State Legislature)
The Kansas Department of Labor, which inspects the state’s amusement rides, and Kansas City Police did not immediately return calls from the News.
The Schwab family said in a statement their lost boy “abundant joy to our family and all those who he came into contact with.” The family did not return messages and has not announced any action over the death.
“Caleb was an incredible young man, 10 years old and full of life,” the family said through their pastor, Clint Sprague, on Monday afternoon. “He’s going to be missed for his energy, his life, his smile, and for the way he lit up the room.”
The 10-year-old’s funeral will be held this Friday, at 2 p.m. at the Life Mission Church in Olathe, the pastor said.
Amusement park rides cause more than 4,400 injuries in an average year, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission data from 1990 to 2010, but there is no official tally of how many deaths or serious injuries are tied to rides. There is no federal regulation of amusement parks and no federal requirements for reporting injury data.
A GoFundMe page for the boy’s funeral raised more than $ 21,000 in less than a day.