Witnesses of waterslide tragedy recount boy's fatal fall
KANSAS CITY -- The waterslide that killed a 10-year-old son of a Kansas lawmaker Sunday has reportedly not been inspected by the state since the ride opened two years ago. The Verrückt slide at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark is the tallest in the world.
A portion of the enclosure on the slide's second hump has been removed, reports CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca. There are no federal inspection laws for waterparks in the U.S., and inspections are handled on a state-by-state basis. State inspectors reportedly last checked the waterpark in 2012, well before the ride opened.
In a statement Monday evening, the Kansas City police department said the boy died of a "fatal neck injury at the end of the ride, in the pool."
"The slide itself made a noise that didn't sound right and that's when I turned around," Jess Sanford said.
Sanford and Melanie Gocke said they went down the massive slide hours before watching Caleb Schwab fall.
"I just saw Caleb sliding down kind of like the last half of the slide and there was a blood trail down the slide," Sanford said.
First responders found Schwab in a pool at Verrückt's base. According to Kansas City police, two women were in the raft with Schwab. They were taken to the hospital for minor facial injuries.
Verrückt's first plunge is more than 168 feet or approximately 17 stories high. The second drop is about 50 feet. Two to three people can ride in a raft at one time and riders are secured by Velcro straps.
"It wasn't that secure being strapped in," Gocke recalled.
Paul Oberhauser said his belt came off while riding with a friend and his 9-year-old son about two weeks ago.
"As soon as I hit the bottom of the first curve the shoulder strap just kind of busted loose," Oberhauser said.
He said he had to grip handles by his legs to hold on and told park staff what happened.
"They kinda said, 'Oh no, really,' or something, 'Yes, that's not good.' And so it sounded like you know they were gonna do something about it," Oberhauser said.
In a statement, Schlitterbahn said safety is their "top priority" and that the rides are inspected daily.
"All of the regulations are really done at the state and local level with respect to amusement parks and waterparks. There are no federal standards and so it really is up to the park operators, the manufacturers of the rides and the states to make sure this is a safe environment," said Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.
The theme park is expected to reopen Wednesday. It's unclear how long Verrückt will remain closed.
for more features.