10-Year-Old Boy Dies on Verrückt Slide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark
For readers with some understanding of the German language and familiarity with the waterslide, Verrückt is an aptly named ride. The term “verrückt” translates to “insane” and the waterslide is one of the world’s tallest. In fact, at the time of its opening in 2014, Verrückt was the tallest water slide in the world. The ride sends riders on a journey that includes a peak height of nearly 170 feet and an additional single drop of more than 50 feet.
However, the ride has not been without its share of problems. The ride’s opening was delayed multiple times due to problems with the slide’s systems. For instance, problems with the ride’s raft conveyor system resulted in the cancellation of two media preview days for the ride back in 2014. At the time, park officials remarked that the ride would be delayed as long as needed to guarantee its safety. To the park’s credit, despite these initial problems and the ride’s frightening specifications the ride had been operated safely and successfully. Unfortunately, this all changed with a fatal accident occurring on the water-slide on Sunday, August 7, 2016.
How Did the Water Park Accident Occur?
Unfortunately, the exact details regarding the water park accident have yet to be released by police and park officials. However, police have ruled out any foul play or other malicious acts that could have resulted in criminal charges. At this point, police have ruled that the park fatality is an accident but have not released additional details.
However, we can assess some of the potential causes for the fatal injuries based on what we know about the ride and its construction. To start, the ride was initially delayed because the designers of the ride had based their calculations on roller coaster models. These calculations turned out to be a poor fit and rafts would fly off of the initial build of the slide. After more than $1 million in repairs to the ride, it was believed that these problems were addressed. However, perhaps the young boy was something of an edge case.
That is, riders under the age of 12 were originally not allowed to ride. Furthermore, the two to three riders per raft must be a minimum of 54 inches tall and have a combined weight that is between 400 and 550 pounds. It is not entirely clear if the age requirement was dropped because the specific height and weight requirements were a better metric or if the initial ban on children under age 12 was due to the forces involved or a child’s propensity to have difficulty following certain instructions. However, these are two potential areas of inquiry.
What Has the Park Said About the Accident and Death?
While details are still limited, in a media briefing on Sunday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Schlitterbahn said the park’s rides are inspected every day. These inspections are carried out by independent third-party inspection companies. The spokeswoman indicated that the park was closed Sunday following the accident and would remain closed on Monday. While the park was expected to reopen on Tuesday, there is no word regarding when Verrückt would re-open.
Ideally, the ride will not re-open until following the completion of the investigation and determination of the accident cause. In light of the ride’s history, inspectors and regulators must rule out design-based reasons for the accident before riders are allowed back on. Inspectors will also look to assess whether rider behavior contributed to the accident and other relevant factors.
Contact an Experienced Amusement Park Accident Lawyer If You Were Injured and Need Representation
We will provide details as additional information is released. At present, we send our condolences to the family of the 12-year-old boy. We hope that the inspectors and investigators will uncover the cause behind the fatal injuries so that no other family will be forced to experience this tragedy.
If you were injured on a theme park ride, contact our Pennsylvania amusement park accident lawyers can help. Call today for a free consultation at (215) 709-6940.