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Tragic Story Of Boy Decapitated On Water Slide Taller Than Niagra Falls

Tragic Story Of Boy Decapitated On Water Slide Taller Than Niagra Falls

A new short documentary goes into the tragic story of a 10-year-old boy who was decapitated on a water ride.

In a story that first appeared to be a freak accident, the short film shows how the whole case was actually much more complicated than that.

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The incident itself happened back in 2016, when Caleb Schwab visited Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City with his family for what should have been a fun day out.

The ride used to be the tallest water slide in the world. Credit: The Atlantic
The ride used to be the tallest water slide in the world. Credit: The Atlantic

Verrückt (German for 'insane'), was the tallest waterslide in the world at 169 feet tall and saw riders plummet down the nearly vertical 17-storey chute. Standing taller than Niagara Falls, it dropped at speeds up to 70 miles per hour (113km per hour).

Caleb, the son of Kansas State lawmaker Scott, died on the ride after being decapitated on the way down. A loud cracking noise was heard, before other visitors saw the disturbing sight of a body wash down after the raft. A lifeguard held people back, with visitors catching a glimpse of the young boy who appeared to have been decapitated.

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A witness claimed Caleb flew out of the raft after the first drop and hit the safety net before dropping 50ft to his death.

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The video shows an interview with one of the designers, John Schooley, who tested the ride himself before it opened. "That was really exciting because we truly didn't know whether we were going to survive it or not," he says. "A ride might be scary, but you figure that they have it figured out. We didn't know whether we had it figured out or not."

The park's co owner Jeff Henry and Schooley were eventually indicted on charges of aggravated battery, aggravated endangerment of a child, interference with law enforcement and second-degree murder.

The state said that the two men had rushed forward with the ride's construction without the technical expertise required to design a properly functioning waterslide, skipped 'fundamental steps in the design process,' and relied 'almost entirely on crude trial-and-error methods' for safety testing.

A team of experts who inspected the ride after Caleb's death found 'physical evidence that indicated that other rafts had gone airborne and collided with the overhead hoops and netting before the fatality'.

Caleb was only ten years old when he tragically lost his life. Credit: Fox4
Caleb was only ten years old when he tragically lost his life. Credit: Fox4

To make matters worse, on 3 July 2014 - one week before the ride's grand opening - an engineering firm that was hired to perform accelerometer tests on Verrückt's rafts issued a damning report that 'guaranteed that rafts would occasionally go airborne in a manner that could severely injure or kill the occupants'.

The documentary shows that owners pushed ahead with the opening of the ride to coincide with a reality TV show about amusement parks.

Other documents cited evidence of nearly a dozen Schlitterbahn customers who had been injured on the ride. According to evidence submitted by the state, Schlitterbahn buried or downplayed many of these reports.

Nathan Truesdell, the filmmaker who created the documentary, said: "This could have happened to anyone who went down that slide."

In the end, charges were dismissed against Henry and Schooley due to 'improper evidence', but the water park is now closed, and the slide has thankfully been demolished.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: World News

Amelia Ward

Amelia is a journalist at LADbible. After studying journalism at Liverpool John Moores and Salford Uni (don't ask), she went into PR and then the world of music. After a few years working on festivals and events, she went back to her roots. In her spare time, Amelia likes music, Liverpool FC, and spending good, quality time with her cat, Paul. You can contact Amelia at [email protected]