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Accidental death at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City.


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The whole indictment is an absolutely mind boggling read.

 

 

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That is an understatement. I can't even believe what I am reading. As I posted prior; my son's harness came undone the Friday before the boys death - but my son was able to hold on to the side of the boat. The indictment shows this happening several times in the past with resulting injuries. Just wow.

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The indictment is stunning, and the accident report list is particularly chilling. It turns my stomach knowing that I watched the construction documentary years ago and was rooting for these guys to have success with the slide. I've learned more since the tragic accident (and now all this), but I first thought that the documentary was just hamming up the idea that the slide "didn't always work" as part of a pretend danger gimmick for TV. I guessed that the original was perhaps just a prototype that was going to be reassembled in its real in-park location.

 

Ugh, that boy who died and all of the negligence that's come to light is just awful.

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When i first read an article earlier today about him being charged, i was confused as to why they were charging the former dirctor of ops for the death of Caleb. But after reading the whole 48 pages, i am completely happy this guy is getting charged. Spending 3 years as a supervisor at an amusement park, i could NEVER image one of my managers or dirctors telling me to altor a statement. Actually, ive been told by security to rewrite statements before because there wasnt enough details in it. This guy deserves everything that is coming for him.

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Based on the indictment I am very surprised that they only charged the operations manager and not the designers.

 

This is fairly common, since he was the one who oversaw everything and signed off on it all. They usually go after the one in charge. While employees should stand up for what is right, sometimes people just do what they're told to keep their job and put food on the table. I'm not defending them, that's just how it is sometimes. That's not to say the designers won't have trouble finding decent work in the future, however. This will indirectly impact them in that regard as well.

 

Really just an awful thing to hear how much negligence was going on. For the sake of all their guests, I really hope this was just an isolated incident and isn't commonplace at all Schlitterbahns. Hopefully the other parks will also be thoroughly evaluated and audited for safety flaws.

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Wow, that's incredible. That they would hire someone with no business designing a ride to be the lead designer says a lot about this company.

 

I have news for you about almost everything at Schlitterbahn including who designed the first Master Blaster (and licensed the tech out).

 

Also: Additional news about everything S&S was building from 1994-2002.

 

As it relates to this initial arrest: He will probably do a plea deal and end up dragging others down with him. And honestly, I don't feel too bad about it. Someone got killed over this.

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For the sake of all their guests, I really hope this was just an isolated incident and isn't commonplace at all Schlitterbahns.

The confidence of this is kind of low for me on this considering one of the guys who designed this thing literally had no engineering degree let alone a GED. Plus to make things even better, he's a co-owner of the entire company (Jeff Henry).

 

I just don't know where to begin with this. Everything from the design planning, construction, maintenance, and management of the incident were a complete failure and makes make not want to trust the company as a whole, all together.

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For the sake of all their guests, I really hope this was just an isolated incident and isn't commonplace at all Schlitterbahns.

The confidence of this is kind of low for me on this considering one of the guys who designed this thing literally had no engineering degree let alone a GED. Plus to make things even better, he's a co-owner of the entire company (Jeff Henry).

 

I just don't know where to begin with this. Everything from the design planning, construction, maintenance, and management of the incident were a complete failure and makes make not want to trust the company as a whole, all together.

 

Watching the wagons get circled as people call Jeff Henry (possibly one of, if not the most experienced water slide designer ever) "inexperienced" when they've been riding his creations for a couple decades is almost too hilarious to me. Everyone wants to believe that this is something other than what it is, which is a industry mainstay and legend being totally exposed. Sometimes parks take chances with us, the guest. Even The Walt Disney Corporation did it in my lifetime, which is how some guy wound up impaled on Big Thunder Mountain.

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I saw that episode of Xtreme Waterparks and knew that the guy designing the slide was an owner of Schlitterbahn and not an engineer, but they designed the original MasterBlaster and that turned out to be a success. I thought him testing the prototype was kind of crazy, but he was willing to test the ride himself so be it. He should have brought an actual engineer onboard at least for consulting the ride design though. I don't know if all or most of Schlitterbahn's slides are made in house or if they also buy from major slide manufacturers like ProSlide as well, but if a lot of Schlitterbahn's rides are designed without an actual engineer at least consulting on design then I'm surprised they haven't had more incidents at their parks like at Action Park. Other than this terrible incident I haven't heard of major injuries or incidents at their other parks and they seem like they had a pretty good safety record prior unless they do a good job covering up their incidents (which is definitely a possibility).

 

What really surprises me is that they designed this just to impress a cut rate Travel Channel show that airs on Sunday nights in the summer when a lot of people aren't watching TV. Really?? You designed this to impress 500 or so TV viewers?? I'll admit the one hour episode on Verruckt was fun/interesting to watch but not worth it to actually implement the ride if it had design flaws. Other then the height, drop, and speed the waterslide didn't seem that impressive. It's just a steep drop, a hill and then the end on what feels more like a shoot the chutes water ride then a waterslide - might as well just ride a rollercoaster. Knott's and Holiday World both built water rides with massive drops and both of those ultimately failed. These were all one trick pony gimmicks that were big wastes of money. I'd rather ride a waterslide with more interesting elements like a funnel or a halfpipe or with surprise moments that's a bit more substantial and longer in length.

 

The Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels has been on my bucket list for years and I had hoped to visit it someday whenever I eventually do a Texas trip. I still would like to visit it some day, but I'm less sure of it now and would probably skip their other parks (at least for now). It upsets me to hear that they covered up incidents at their KC park and I wonder if they do it at their other parks or if it's just because of their Verruckt ride. I don't know if the ride safety/inspection standards in TX are stricter than in KS or not, but I hope their waterslides and attractions at their Texas parks (especially at their flagship New Braunfels park) are safer and better designed then the Verruckt monstrosity was.

Edited by 805Andrew
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For the sake of all their guests, I really hope this was just an isolated incident and isn't commonplace at all Schlitterbahns.

The confidence of this is kind of low for me on this considering one of the guys who designed this thing literally had no engineering degree let alone a GED. Plus to make things even better, he's a co-owner of the entire company (Jeff Henry).

 

I just don't know where to begin with this. Everything from the design planning, construction, maintenance, and management of the incident were a complete failure and makes make not want to trust the company as a whole, all together.

 

Watching the wagons get circled as people call Jeff Henry (possibly one of, if not the most experienced water slide designer ever) "inexperienced" when they've been riding his creations for a couple decades is almost too hilarious to me. Everyone wants to believe that this is something other than what it is, which is a industry mainstay and legend being totally exposed. Sometimes parks take chances with us, the guest. Even The Walt Disney Corporation did it in my lifetime, which is how some guy wound up impaled on Big Thunder Mountain.

I'm only jumping in here to sort of agree with DirkFunk in that Jeff was a pioneer of water ride attractions (to an extent). We would not have the modern uphill master blaster water slides, FlowRider surf simulators, or those really cool endless lazy/rapid rivers if it wasn't for his "inexperience."

 

Having said that, from what I read so far in the indictment, everything that was Verruckt was when the "pioneering" was taken too far. I'm not defending the man at all for treating such a large and lethal project so shoddy, and inevitably resulting in such a tragic incident.

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Having experience doesn’t mean he was qualified to take on this project. Clearly if everything in the indictment is true, his previous design success sounds much more like luck than skill.

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Having experience doesn’t mean he was qualified to take on this project. Clearly if everything in the indictment is true, his previous design success sounds much more like luck than skill.

Exactly. I can draw a house, but it doesn't mean I should be an architect.

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Wow, that's incredible. That they would hire someone with no business designing a ride to be the lead designer says a lot about this company.

 

I have news for you about almost everything at Schlitterbahn including who designed the first Master Blaster (and licensed the tech out).

 

Also: Additional news about everything S&S was building from 1994-2002.

Yeah, the fact that this guy was designing everything leads me to wonder what else was treated this carelessly. Did he design stuff for S&S too?

 

I’ve always thought schitterbahn seemed a little sketchy. This confirms it.

Agreed. Despite having Schlitterbahn KC only about 3 hours from my house, we never went there. I thought about it, but it was always "I don't know...let's just go to Oceans of Fun." Feeling very good about that decision now.

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Yeah, the fact that this guy was designing everything leads me to wonder what else was treated this carelessly. Did he design stuff for S&S too?

 

Stan Checketts isn't an engineer either. And honestly, if some of the stuff he designed and tested ever went into actual production like the Sonic Boom, maybe we wouldn't have discussions about what a genius he was.

 

The point here is this: There isn't anyone more experienced in the world at building slides of this sort than Jeff Henry. The problem is that Jeff Henry's interest in Jeff Henry superceded that of the safety of the guests in this instance and there weren't enough people on his team to tell him no any more. Focusing on his "lack of experience" gets into a whataboutism loop that is only going to make you wonder about your safety as a whole in the industry. Maybe we should have that discussion? I don't know.

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Having experience doesn’t mean he was qualified to take on this project. Clearly if everything in the indictment is true, his previous design success sounds much more like luck than skill.

Exactly. I can draw a house, but it doesn't mean I should be an architect.

"Design" as a blanket term is very weird. Part of my job is understanding who needs to be contacted / solicited to carry a design into the real world. I've "designed" several coaster layouts, flat ride themes, play areas, and other elements over the past few years as my job, but I am not qualified to engineer them. My kind of design doesn't often go past the concept or planning phases. When I like a design, and my superiors like a design, and our clients like a design, we have to hand it over to say, Intamin, or Vekoma, or Mack, because they're the ones that are qualified to make it happen.

 

The laundry list of items on that incident list is everything that the general public fears about roller coasters and rides made real. It's unfortunate that in a world of sensationalized "someone got decapitated on this roller coaster" and "they had to tear it down because it was too scary" urban legends, an incident like those actually happened.

 

Being serious, comparisons can be made to Knoebels' Flying Turns here. Both rides faced delays, both were first of their kind, both were toboggan-type attractions, both had weight limits. But thankfully, Knoebels understood the risks that they were taking with that kind of ride. They know that Flying Turns is only safe to operate under a specific set of circumstances, and it is immediately taken down temporarily if it doesn't meet that standard of safety.

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I just read through the indictment as well. I'm stunned and horrified. I know Verruckt was the park's signature attraction, but the fact they continued to operate the attraction after several injuries shows a lack of consideration for the guests.

 

I think the most concerning statement was on Pages 29-30 when the indictment notes written and oral reports from maintenance and employees that the brake systems were failing or had failed.

 

I was considering going to Schlitterbahn next month when I'm down in Texas, but this incident and attempted cover-up gives me pause.

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Yeah, the fact that this guy was designing everything leads me to wonder what else was treated this carelessly. Did he design stuff for S&S too?

 

Stan Checketts isn't an engineer either. And honestly, if some of the stuff he designed and tested ever went into actual production like the Sonic Boom, maybe we wouldn't have discussions about what a genius he was.

 

The point here is this: There isn't anyone more experienced in the world at building slides of this sort than Jeff Henry. The problem is that Jeff Henry's interest in Jeff Henry superceded that of the safety of the guests in this instance and there weren't enough people on his team to tell him no any more. Focusing on his "lack of experience" gets into a whataboutism loop that is only going to make you wonder about your safety as a whole in the industry. Maybe we should have that discussion? I don't know.

Never heard of Stan Checketts, but I just googled him, and it looks like he was one of the main people at S&S for a while. It doesn't appear to me that either he or S&S as a company have any ties to Schlitterbahn.

 

I'm not sure why you're trying to argue about lack of experience either; my argument was that this company hired a guy who had no idea what he was doing, then pressured him into doing it quickly, then covered up all the problems with the ride for TV ratings. That is a terrible, terrible thing to do, and it's made me rethink my Texas trip. I was thinking about going to the New Braunfels park while in the San Antonio area, but after learning what this company does, I want nothing to do with them. I'm not concerned about my safety as a whole in the industry; I understand that accidents happen and that there is inherent risk in anything. At the same time, I think it's wise not to entrust my safety and my family's safety to people who have behaved this cavalierly for years.

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The problem is that Jeff Henry's interest in Jeff Henry superceded that of the safety of the guests in this instance and there weren't enough people on his team to tell him no any more.

 

My kind of design doesn't often go past the concept or planning phases. When I like a design, and my superiors like a design, and our clients like a design, we have to hand it over to say, Intamin, or Vekoma, or Mack, because they're the ones that are qualified to make it happen.

 

These hit the nail on the head, in my opinion. Having ideas and "designs" to bring new and exciting things to the table was probably part of his job description, but he was also responsible for ensuring these projects were completed correctly and properly, which he seemingly failed to do. Even though he may have decades of "experience" with these types of slides, that doesn't necessarily mean he's well-versed in every little detail. You could have the world's greatest bridge architect, but they may have no idea how to properly lay a concrete base in the middle of a river. If that's the case, I certainly would not trust them to oversee that part of the project, and would bring in an expert.

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I feel that the bottom line is that the person who defined this slide had zero education in the dynamic engineering aspect of the ride. There were no calculations done at that stage. None. Had there been an experienced, educated engineer doing those calculations this slide in this iteration would never have come to fruition. Then they brought in inexperienced people and willfully disregarded those who were experienced and educated in their field (the engineer who did the accelerometer testing for example). They knew the flight path of these rafts and decided to put solid metal bars directly in the flight path. They ignored recommended age requirements and changed them to suit their wants (not even their needs). There was no operations or maintenance manual and no care to properly maintain this ride. I'm not an attorney but it feels like this all started at the very top and far more than one person should be named as defendants here. I don't understand any defending Jeff Henry in this situation. He was more than happy to take credit for this when at the beginning. Let him stand and take responsibility for his actions now.

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Woah I've been to Schlitterbaun in New Braunsfels a number of times. Never felt unsafe, but does anyone really? Water parks and their rides have never scared me like theme park rides, but now that I'm thinking back I've been injured more at water parks than I ever have at theme parks. Nothing major, just banging your head on a slide or hitting a dry patch and getting scraped or getting a 40 mph enema on the big slides.

That indictment was eye opening.

If they're still open this summer I'm sure I'll go when I head down to Fiesta Texas. It's a really fun and different park

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There's a saying never trust a man with two first names and boy does that ever fit here. This whole indictment is a horrible and crazy read.

 

I've never been to Schlitterbahn but I went by the park and saw the ride from the highway. I'm not normally intimidated by rides but I'm honestly not sure I would ever have gotten on this thing.

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Wow - that is just really, really awful.

 

WTF were these idiots thinking? It's like the cast of Jackass "designed" a waterslide that they knew could potentially kill people - and they went ahead and let it operate anyway despite the previous (serious) injuries? Uggghhh.

 

I can't even begin to digest how this went on for so long and they knowingly condoned it. These people are either freaking monsters or stupid beyond belief.

 

My faith in humanity just dropped yet another notch after reading that indictment.

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Yeah, the fact that this guy was designing everything leads me to wonder what else was treated this carelessly. Did he design stuff for S&S too?

 

Stan Checketts isn't an engineer either. And honestly, if some of the stuff he designed and tested ever went into actual production like the Sonic Boom, maybe we wouldn't have discussions about what a genius he was.

 

The point here is this: There isn't anyone more experienced in the world at building slides of this sort than Jeff Henry. The problem is that Jeff Henry's interest in Jeff Henry superceded that of the safety of the guests in this instance and there weren't enough people on his team to tell him no any more. Focusing on his "lack of experience" gets into a whataboutism loop that is only going to make you wonder about your safety as a whole in the industry. Maybe we should have that discussion? I don't know.

 

Stan Checketts built a lot of crazy things...but left them in the prototype stage. He was smart enough to realize the rides he sold needed actual engineering, had to meet ASTM standards, etc.

 

There was actually no one with experience building slides of this sort because it was a first of its kind. So in this case, he did lack the proper experience and it showed.

 

I agree that his ego played a big role...but to ignore every single industry standard? Makes you wonder just how much “experience” the guy had...perhaps that’s why NBGS got out of the slide business besides for themselves?

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