The tragic story of a ten year old boy's death on a waterslide in Kansas is an unimaginable horror for any parent. In this case, the boy, Caleb Schwan the son of an Olathe, Kansas Republican House Member was the victim of unenforced safety regulations during 'Elected Officials Day' at Schlitterbahn, a Kansas City Water Amusement Park. This is a horror story that might have been prevented if safety was more important than profit.
Tests on Verrückt, the tallest waterslide on earth were conducted surreptitiously at night, when TV crews and helicopters couldn't see some of the horrifying results of the ride's design flaws and future safety violations that could end tragically if not meticulously enforced.
Velcro seat belts lash riders to the raft, and netting encloses the chute to retain the raft in the unlikely event it goes flying. During early testing, rafts did just that. Test video shows rafts and sandbags ramping off the Hill and in some cases hitting and damaging the slide below. Rumors of test riders going airborne circulated on social media, but only sandbags were sacrificed. After three opening delays, the number of riders per raft was cut from four to three people, and it was determined that the total distributed weight can't exceed the 550 lbs. to prevent liftoff.
After the Guinness Book of World Records certified Verrückt as the world's tallest water slide, Henry tore down half of it to make corrections, delaying the planned opening and costing an additional $1 million. Reiterating this unforgettable detail: Testing was conducted after dark to avoid media helicopters that had been buzzing the park after hours.
Henry then called the ride, "dangerous, but it's a safe dangerous." He said 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."
Jeff Henry explained the ride to Sam Brownback, the de-regulation advocate and financially catastrophic Governor of Kansas. Brownback has a sordid history of cutting education, safety, gun regulations and other important social matters that affect everyone, in favor of giveaways to giant corporations and his filthy rich friends. At the time,
Travel Channel cameras were shadowing Henry for a documentary. “I’m not really a designer anymore,” he told Brownback. “I’m an actor.”
Before Brownback could reply, Henry added, “I’m not as good as you, though, governor.”
“Huh?” Brownback said.
“I don’t think I’m as good as you.”
Brownback let the jab land and laughed. “It’s going to be a great attraction,” he said.
“Gotta love it,” Henry said.
“Cowabunga,” Brownback said
Obviously, that exchange proves nothing other than Brownback knew that this ride was testing the limits of safety and likely did not heed warnings. This is an assumption, but one based on the historic performance of Brownback's Kansas.
In a news article linked to the news release announcing a 2014 delay, Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry told USA Today that he and senior designer John Schooley had based their calculations when designing the slide on roller coasters, but that didn't translate well to a waterslide like Verrückt.
The Kansas City Star addressed some very valid concerns:
▪ How exactly did Caleb die? Pending an investigation, Schlitterbahn has released no information about the death, including at what point Caleb was injured, whether it was at the top of the ride or along its descending path. Was he ejected from the raft, did he come loose from the raft or was he injured while still inside the craft?
▪ Did the ride somehow fail or malfunction?
▪ Did the raft containing Caleb meet the required weight and/or height requirement? According to Schlitterbahn’s website, the ride holds two to three riders per raft with a required combined weight of at least 400 pounds. Riders have to be at least 54 inches tall. At age 10, Caleb would have had to ride with two other passengers of adult weight.
▪ Was Caleb properly secured into the raft? Or did he somehow come loose or somehow unfasten his restraint? The rafts use a Velcro lap and a single shoulder restraint.
Prior to this episode, another female rider complained that the restraints weren't working properly. According to local TV station KSHB, however, “more than one water park guest” said the harnesses on the ride were not working Sunday.
Hopefully, this won't happen again, as more tests should be conducted, and they should unequivocally demand that the raft's total weight is within the safe range. What about the weight distribution? Was that considered? If a 200 pound man is in the front and the back is anchored by an 80 lb. boy, is that safe? Who knows? They haven't released details and if the Brownback folks are pals with the Schlitterbahn owners, will those details be forthright? It's actually impossible to keep it under wraps when witnesses describe the scene at the bottom of the ride. The Republican owned media will hardly put two and two together and attribute this tragedy to the money grubbing owners who knew this was possible and just counted the cash, and hoped for the best. Prayer doesn't do a whole helluva lot when the laws of physics are not in your favor.
Kansas City, Kansas, police issued a statement late Monday afternoon saying that Caleb suffered a fatal neck injury around 2:30 p.m. while he was riding the slide with two women, neither of whom was related to him. They suffered minor facial injuries and were treated at an area hospital, police said.
Emergency responders arrived to find the boy dead in a pool at the end of the ride, according to the statement, which offered no further details.
Leslie Castaneda, who was at Schlitterbahn on Sunday, told The Kansas City Star that she saw Caleb's crumpled shorts or bathing suit at the bottom of the ride, along with blood on the slide's white descending flume.
"I'm really having a tough time with it. I really am," said Castaneda, of Kansas City, Kansas. "I saw his (Caleb's) brother. He was screaming."
The nation seems to suffer a collective lack of regulations on waterparks, and there are far more injuries than are reported. If the 'Nanny State' requires that safety comes first before profit, I'm for all the nannying we need to protect our children from dangerous Republican money-grubbing whores.
***THIS IS DEFINITELY A RESULT OF LACK OF OVERSIGHT***
Yes, Brownback cut safety funding!
The Kansas Department of Labor also regulates amusement park rides. In fact, state law allows state officials to conduct spot safety inspections, but the number of state employees in that department has been slashed by a third in recent years. The Schlitterbahn employee told FOX 4 she never saw a single state inspection in the multiple years she has worked there.
Kansas has a national reputation for providing minimal state oversight at amusement parks. FOX 4 Problem Solvers asked the Kansas Department of Labor for any inspection reports on the park, but we have yet to receive them.