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Tragic case of 'world's tallest waterslide' that decapitated a kid

Tragic case of 'world's tallest waterslide' that decapitated a kid

The slide was based in based in Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City

Waterslides are supposed to end in a splash, a bit of fun, a thrill for little kids and big kids. But in one tragic case, the ‘world’s tallest waterslide’ decapitated a child in the US.

While a water park in Austria has been drawing attention for having a ‘no woman’ slide, the famed Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City was home to the Verrückt which stood at a whopping 169 feet tall.

Riders were able to ride down it a speedy 70 miles per hour as people flocked to the theme park just to be able to ride it themselves.

The Verrückt is translated from German as ‘Insane’ and measured in even taller than Niagara Falls. However, as shown in a documentary uploaded to YouTube back in 2019 by The Atlantic, a little 10-year-old was horrifically killed on the tall slide.

The slide drew in crowds. (The Atlantic)
The slide drew in crowds. (The Atlantic)

On 7 August 2016, the raft Caleb Schwab was sitting in went airborne from the ride, launching him into a metal pole supporting a safety net.

Tragically, this led to the boy’s decapitation and instant death.

The documentary went into detail to explore just what went wrong to cause such an event which has continued to shock people for seven years now.

The short film, just under 10 minutes long, was made by Missouri filmmaker Nathan Truesdell who first heard about the incident on the news.

"My first thought was that it must have been a freak accident—what a horrible, horrible story," he told The Atlantic. "But once I took a closer look, I started to realise how complicated this story really was, and how this could have happened to anyone who went down that slide."

The deathly ride first came about in 2012 when Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry teamed up with senior designer John Schooley to construct the Verrückt in hopes to secure a Guinness World Record.

Caleb was 10. (Family Handout)
Caleb was 10. (Family Handout)

Titled The Water Slide, the doc explained that the devastating ordeal happened due to 'gross negligence, lax state regulations, and the consequences of hubris'.

Truesdell stated: "There wasn't a lot of science or ride engineering involved in the testing and design.

"They were sending sandbags down and basically hoping that they didn't fly off of the slide. The netting that ultimately ended up killing the child was added to prevent the rafts from flying off of the slide completely."

Both Henry and Schooley were subsequently indicted on 'charges of aggravated battery, aggravated endangerment of a child, interference with law enforcement, and involuntary manslaughter' following Caleb's untimely death.

However, the pair, who had allegedly skipped 'fundamental steps in the design process' and relied 'almost entirely on crude trial-and-error methods' in regards to safety testing were later dismissed of the charges.

The Schlitterbahn Water Park was shut down and the Verrückt was completely demolished.

Featured Image Credit: The Atlantic/Family Handout

Topics: Theme Park, Documentaries