The 10-year-old son of a state lawmaker died of a neck injury while riding the world’s tallest water slide in Kansas City, Kansas, police said on Monday.
Caleb Thomas Schwab died on Sunday at the Schlitterbahn waterpark on the Verruckt water slide, which sends riders plunging down 17 stories at up to 50 miles an hour (80 kph).
He was riding with two women on a raft, Kansas City police said in a statement.
Police and fire officials rushed to the scene after a report of an emergency and found the boy “dead from a fatal neck injury at the end of the ride, in the pool,” the statement said.
The two women on the raft suffered minor injuries to their faces and were hospitalized, it said. The ride is more than 168 feet (51.4 meters) high, making it taller than the Statue of Liberty from torch to the top of its pedestal. The ride’s name means “insane” in German.
Park officials said in a statement that Schlitterbahn Kansas City would remain closed at least until Wednesday, while the slide would be shut down during the course of the investigation.
Police and a park spokesperson declined to give additional details about the child’s death, including whether the child met the ride’s height requirement of 54 inches (1.37 meters) or whether the three riders and the raft met the weight requirement.
Schwab was the son of Kansas State Representative Scott Schwab, who, in a statement said that the family was devastated.
“Caleb was an incredible young man,” the family’s pastor, Clint Sprague, told a news conference. He was “full of life, loved baseball, basketball, soccer. He was always doing something.”
The Verruckt water slide is the tallest in the world, according to Guinness World Records. The park postponed the 2014 opening of the slide three times to ensure safety.
Kansas state Senator Pat Pettey said the tragedy occurred during the park’s “elected officials day” and that she was at the site.
Pettey said in a telephone interview that she left the park before the incident that led to the boy’s death. She said relatives of hers who stayed at the park had seen blood on the slide.
Under Kansas law, the state Department of Labor has jurisdiction over amusement parks, which must inspect their rides every 12 months with state officials authorized to conduct random inspections. The incident will likely lead to a discussion in the state legislature about how water parks are regulated, she said.
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