Update: Boy Was Decapitated on Verrückt Waterslide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark
New details regarding the accident have emerged following the tragic news of a young boy’s death at a Kansas City amusement park. The accident occurred at the Guinness Book of World Records certified the tallest waterslide in the world. The ride is marketed on Schlitterbahn’s website as an extreme thrill ride that sends riders “…down a jaw-dropping 168 foot 7-inch structure, only to be blasted back up a second massive hill and then sent down yet another gut-wrenching 50-foot drop for the ultimate in water slide thrills. Due to the extreme nature of the ride, numerous safety requirements were set forth including a recently repealed prohibition on riders under age 12.
Unfortunately, the event has shown that the safety regime for the Verrückt was insufficient and a young boy paid the ultimate price with his life. But even more, troubling is the fact that some individuals have gone on the record stating that they experienced serious safety problems on the ride and reported them to park management. However, despite these concerns expressed by riders, the park did not take action.
About the Water Park Accident
A person who was not authorized to speak about the water park accident has released details of the accident investigation that followed Sunday’s fatal accident. According to the anonymous source, the boy was the son of a Kansas lawmaker. He was assigned to slide down the ride in a three person raft with two women that he did not know. According to the source, the boy was decapitated while riding down the slide. Both women also suffered facial injuries.
It is important to note that the ride requires all riders to be a minimum of 54 inches tall. The combined weight of the three riders must fall between 400 to 550 pounds. Thus, the first area of inquiry regarding the crash should probably be to verify that the riders were within the individual and aggregate limits for the ride.
At Least Two Recent Verrückt Riders Say they Reported Loose Velcro Straps that Came Unfastened During the Ride
An additional area where an inquiry is likely to be fruitful concerns the Velcro harnesses used to hold riders in the raft during the course of the ride. Apparently, these Velcro harnesses were installed on the ride because the initial design of the slide launched the crash dummy carrying rafts off the slide and into the air. The slide was redesigned at a cost of more than $1 million and the straps were added to further reduce the ejection risk. However, riders have reported that these measures may have been insufficient.
One recent rider of Verrückt, Paul Oberhauser, told local television station KCTV that his Velcro shoulder restraint “busted loose” when he rode the slide on July 28, 2016. He states that he just “held on” to the additional ropes provided in the raft. A video taken by the man’s wife shows that the straps had come loose. The matter was reported to park officials. In another similar incident, slide rider Kenneth Conrad indicated to WDAF-TV that in 2015, a friend’s shoulder harness fell off completely while riding.
Safety Consultants Indicate that Velcro Harnesses May Have been Inappropriate and Insufficient for this Ride
If reports of problems regarding the restraint system weren’t troubling enough, a number of safety consultants have criticized the park’s choice to use a Velcro system for such an extreme thrill ride. Ken Martin, a Richmond, Va.-based amusement park safety consultant, seemed to believe that the straps may not have been appropriate and that a system more similar to the ones used in roller coasters would be more appropriate for the forces experienced on the ride. Furthermore, a professor of textile engineering at North Carolina State University indicated that even under the best of conditions that a Velcro “hook and loop, isn’t designed to keep a person in the seat.” This risk is further exacerbated by the fact that use can cause the Velcro to degrade and be less effective.
Contact a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyer If You Were Injured at an Amusement Park or a Water Park
If you or a loved one have suffered serious injuries at an amusement park, the water park accident lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm may be able to fight for the compensation you need to address your injuries. Our legal team can assess the situation for common mistakes by the park such as insufficient staff training, insufficient maintenance, staff negligence, and other concerns. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at (215) 709-6940 today.