Witnesses have described the gruesome scenes at a Kansas theme park where a boy, 10, was decapitated when he was thrown out of a waterslide’s raft and into the safety netting above.

Caleb Thomas Schwab, the son of a Kansas state legislator, was killed while riding the 168-foot-tall Verruckt ride at Schlitterbahn Waterpark – the world’s tallest – on Sunday, August 7th.

Esteban Castaneda, who was at the Kansas City waterpark, told ABC 7 he heard loud booms coming from the ride before noticing a body wash down after a raft.

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Witnesses have described gruesome scenes at a Kansas theme park where a boy, 10, was decapitated when he flew off a waterslide and smashed into the safety net

Witnesses have described gruesome scenes at a Kansas theme park where a boy, 10, was decapitated when he flew off a waterslide and smashed into the safety net

Witnesses say Caleb flew off the ride at around 50ft from the ground and hit the netting

Witnesses say Caleb flew off the ride at around 50ft from the ground and hit the netting

Kansas Police Department issued the above statement in response to the death of Caleb Schwab on the Verruckt Water slide

Kansas Police Department issued the above statement in response to the death of Caleb Schwab on the Verruckt Water slide

The height requirement to ride Verruckt is at least 54 inches tall and riders must be at least 14 years old, according to the park's website. Riders have to climb the ride's 264 steps to the top before taking the 168-foot plunge at 65 mph

The height requirement to ride Verruckt is at least 54 inches tall and riders must be at least 14 years old, according to the park’s website. Riders have to climb the ride’s 264 steps to the top before taking the 168-foot plunge at 65 mph

When he ran forward to help, he saw a lifeguard desperately trying to hold back a gathering crowd.

As he looked down, he says he saw the young boy who appeared to have been decapitated.

Two women, still strapped into the raft, were injured with another witnesses describing one as having blood pouring down her face.

One of those women’s jaw was broken and the other had a broken face bone, according to reports.

They have not been named but one woman described it as the ‘worst day of her life.’

In a worrying development, the waterslide has reportedly never been inspected by the state since opening two years ago.

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 Verruckt opened in 2014.

This file photo shows Schlitterbahn's 168-foot-tall Verruckt speed slide/water coaster in Kansas City, Kansas

This file photo shows Schlitterbahn’s 168-foot-tall Verruckt speed slide/water coaster in Kansas City, Kansas

Caleb was understood to be sat at the front of the raft and was ejected as it hit the second drop (pictured) some 50ft from the ground. The two female passengers behind Caleb suffered serious facial injuries as he left the raft and hit the netting above

Caleb was understood to be sat at the front of the raft and was ejected as it hit the second drop (pictured) some 50ft from the ground. The two female passengers behind Caleb suffered serious facial injuries as he left the raft and hit the netting above

Police spokesman Officer Cameron Morgan said the boy's cause of death has not been confirmed. But officers are conducting a death investigation at the park

Police spokesman Officer Cameron Morgan said the boy’s cause of death has not been confirmed. But officers are conducting a death investigation at the park

Two women, still strapped into the raft, were injured with another witnesses describing one as having blood pouring down her face.

One of those women’s jaw was broken and the other had a broken face bone, according to reports.

They have not been named but one woman described it as the ‘worst day of her life.’

In a worrying development, the waterslide has reportedly never been inspected by the state since opening two years ago.

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 Verruckt opened in 2014.

This file photo shows Schlitterbahn's 168-foot-tall Verruckt speed slide/water coaster in Kansas City, Kansas

This file photo shows Schlitterbahn’s 168-foot-tall Verruckt speed slide/water coaster in Kansas City, Kansas

Caleb was understood to be sat at the front of the raft and was ejected as it hit the second drop (pictured) some 50ft from the ground. The two female passengers behind Caleb suffered serious facial injuries as he left the raft and hit the netting above

Caleb was understood to be sat at the front of the raft and was ejected as it hit the second drop (pictured) some 50ft from the ground. The two female passengers behind Caleb suffered serious facial injuries as he left the raft and hit the netting above

Police spokesman Officer Cameron Morgan said the boy's cause of death has not been confirmed. But officers are conducting a death investigation at the park

Police spokesman Officer Cameron Morgan said the boy’s cause of death has not been confirmed. But officers are conducting a death investigation at the park

In an email Monday, Winter Prosapio, spokeswoman for Schlitterbahn, said the park would not be ‘participating in any further media interviews at this time.’ A day earlier, she told reporters that Caleb had been at the park with family members, adding ‘We honestly don’t know what’s happened.’

Riders go down the slide in multi-person rafts. Because of heavy demand, rides are scheduled by reservation at the time the park opens each day.

The park’s website touts the ride as the ‘ultimate in water slide thrills,’ subjecting ‘adventure seekers’ with a ‘jaw dropping’ 17-story drop, ‘only to be blasted back up a second massive hill and then sent down yet another gut wrenching 50-foot drop.’

Verruckt was certified as the world’s tallest waterslide by Guinness World Records.

The tragedy happened on day the park offered lawmakers and other elected officials a buffet lunch, hot dogs and hamburgers.

State Rep. Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican, and his wife, Michele, released a statement asking for privacy as the family grieves.

‘Since the day he was born, he brought abundant joy to our family and all those he came in contact with,’ the statement said.

A funeral for Caleb is scheduled for Friday afternoon at Olathe’s Life Mission Church, Kansas.

Schlitterbahn has been sued three times since 2014 although never for the waterslide (file picture). Paul Oberhauser who visited the park two weeks ago told CBS News that his velcro safety belt came off while riding with a friend and his 9-year-old son about two weeks ago

Schlitterbahn has been sued three times since 2014 although never for the waterslide (file picture). Paul Oberhauser who visited the park two weeks ago told CBS News that his velcro safety belt came off while riding with a friend and his 9-year-old son about two weeks ago

An image shows netting being removed from a portion of the ride following the tragic incident on Sunday

 

Authorities initially said the victim was 12 years old, but Clint Sprague, a pastor acting as the family’s spokesman, said Caleb was 10 and is one of the couple’s four sons.

House Speaker Ray Merrick told the Kansas City Star that Schwab’s family was ‘the center of his world.’

Verruckt’s 2014 opening was repeatedly delayed, though the operators didn’t explain why. Two media sneak preview days in 2014 were canceled because of problems with a conveyor system that hauls 100-pound rafts to the top of the slide.

In a news article linked to the news release announcing a 2014 delay, Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry told USA Today that he and senior designer John Schooley had based their calculations when designing the slide on roller coasters, but that didn’t translate well to a waterslide like Verruckt.

In early tests, rafts carrying sandbags flew off the slide, prompting engineers to tear down half of the ride and reconfigure some angles at a cost of $1 million, Henry said.

A promotional video for a show about building the slide includes footage of two men riding a raft down a half-size test model and going slightly airborne as it crests the top of the first big hill.

Prosapio said Sunday that the park’s rides are inspected daily and by an ‘outside party’ before the start of each season.

Without specifically mentioning water slides, Kansas statutes describe an ‘amusement ride’ as ‘any mechanical or electrical device that carries or conveys passengers along, around or over a fixed or restricted route or course or within a defined area for the purpose of giving its passengers amusement, pleasure, thrills or excitement.’

Such rides, according to the statute, commonly are known as Ferris wheels, carousels, parachute towers, bungee jumps and roller coasters.

State law leaves it to the Kansas Department of Labor to adopt rules and regulations relating to certification and inspection of rides, adding that an amusement ride at a permanent location ‘shall be self-inspected by a qualified inspector at least every 12 months.’

Caleb’s death is not the first at a Schlitterbahn facility. In 2013, lifeguard Nico Benavides, 20, was killed at the company’s park on South Padre Island, Texas, when a mechanical door slammed on the guard’s head.

The park was hit with fines of $96,000 although they settled for $66,000.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Schlitterbahn has been sued three times for negligence since 2014,  although none were related to the Verrückt water slide,KCUR reports.

 

In a statement Monday afternoon, Schlitterbahn said it was ‘deeply and intensely saddened for the Schwab family and all who were impacted by the tragic accident.’ The park was tentatively scheduled to reopen Wednesday, but ‘Verruckt is closed,’ according to the statement.

Messages left Monday with Kansas’ Labor Department were not immediately returned.

Kansas state Sen. Greg Smith, an Overland Park Republican, said that although state law doesn’t specifically address waterslides, it’s clear they ‘would fall into that category.’

He called any potential legislative action spurred by Sunday’s tragedy premature, saying the investigation of Caleb Schwab’s death should be given time to unfold.

‘Until we have those facts it’s too early to specify what we can do legislatively,’ Smith said.

[Source:- Daily Mail]