A 17-story waterslide on which a 10-year-old boy died in 2016 will come down.
Representatives of Schlitterbahn, the Kansas City-area water park that promoted the Verrückt slide as the world’s tallest when it opened, announced on its Facebook page Thursday that the court has given approval to take down the ride in the months ahead.
Removal of the ride had been delayed during the investigation and subsequent criminal charges that followed the death of Caleb Schwab, the 10-year-old boy who was decapitated when the raft in which he was riding down the 168-foot attraction went airborne and he struck a metal pole that held netting meant to keep riders from falling off.
“As a family continuing to heal, we welcome the decision of the court today,” Caleb’s father, Kansas State Rep, Scott Schwab, said in a statement about the ride’s removal, reports The Kansas City Star. “This is an important step to our family and believe it is to this community as well.”
The boy’s family announced in January 2017 that they had reached a settlement with the park’s owners and raft’s manufacturer.
But criminal charges filed by the Kansas attorney general’s office still are pending that accuse the water park, its owners and others of creating a ride that ignored safety standards — and of hiding evidence or injuries caused on the ride prior to Caleb’s death, according to The Star.
The Star reports that the defendants in court for a Thursday hearing included Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry; the ride’s lead designer John Schooley; and representatives for the ride’s general contractor Henry & Sons Construction. All of the people and entities are charged with second-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated child endangerment.
Additional charges for involuntary manslaughter and interfering with law enforcement were filed against Tyler Miles, a former director of operations for the water park, and KC Waterpark Management LLC. Two maintenance workers at the park, John Zalsman and David Hughes, are charged with misleading investigators.
All have pleaded not guilty.
“It’s an accident, but there is an accounting because someone was negligent,” Scott Schwab told Good Morning America in February 2017.
Named the world’s tallest waterslide by Guinness World Records in 2014, the Verrückt (German for “crazy” or “insane”) required riders to be at least 54 inches tall to go down the slide in multi-person rafts that held up to 550 pounds.
Verrückt had been set to open in May 2014 but didn’t start taking riders until July 2016 after early tests of the waterslide showed that riders could fly off.
Local authorities confirmed that Caleb’s cause of death on Aug. 7, 2016, was due to a fatal “neck injury” — later announcing that he was decapitated in the accident. Two women in the raft with him at the time, neither related to Caleb, suffered minor facial injuries.
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Two months later the park announced it would remove the ride “once the investigation is concluded and we are given permission by the court,” according to a statement issued at the time. “In our opinion, it is the only proper course of action following this tragedy.”
Attorney Melanie Morgan, who represents KC Waterpark Management LLC, said the closed waterslide would be taken down after Labor Day, when the park concludes its summer season, according to The Star.