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Accidental death at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City.


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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 honestly shocked you've never heard of Stan Checketts. But my point is that being an "engineer" is not historically at any point a requirement for manufacturing big rides that we all love.

 

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.

 

He has an idea what he's doing. He had a greater idea than anyone else around. Henry was a inaugural inductee to the World Waterpark Association Hall of Fame and a legend in aquatics, degree or not. That doesn't excuse what he did at all; in fact it makes it even worse. However the idea that only now is Schlitterbahn sketchy....I mean, c'mon. This is the ultimate Monday Morning Quarterbacking. It's embarassing.

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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.

 

Did he realize they needed "actual engineering?" Or did he sell them because they were able to pass muster?

 

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.

 

Then no one has the proper experience, and in that case the guy who's built the biggest and most inventive slides of pretty much the entire history of the industry is most likely the best to take a crack at it. Otherwise you get into a negative feedback loop anything new is ever done. Was Mack qualified to build a spinning launched coaster?

 

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?

 

I'm gonna say he had tons and that it is pretty objective as to how one would determine it.

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The statement of "it will be clear that this was an accident" is a bit unnerving. That implies to me that they think it was a freak occurrence out of their control, when the warning signs were clearly there and it was definitely preventable.

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We'll see what happens. The burden of proof lies heavily on the state. As the article said, it will be difficult for the State to prove this. The state comes out hard with their facts and the defense can't afford to reveal their cards. Often times this makes the accused party appear guilty before the trial, when the defense could have substantial evidence in their favor. These are accusations with little information from the defense. From a publicity standpoint, this always presents an uphill battle. The verdict will tell the real story. Anything up until that point is a bit premature, but I know all too well that accusations are enough in modern times. Especially when the press is looking to make a buck.

 

Just my $.02 based on my experience working with prosecutors and also being a victim in a falsely accused lawsuit. Our local media made it sound like several of our officers mercilessly beat the sh** out of a suspect. I was named in the lawsuit, despite not even being present during the altercation and my name was slandered in the local paper. It was awesome getting calls and text messages from family and friends as the one sided accusations portrayed us as savage criminals, only getting the side of the story that would get the most attention. Clear cut video almost immediately killed the lawsuit to the point where the plaintiff didn't even get any pity settlement money. Not a peep from the media when the charges were dropped.

 

Both men also disregarded a consultant's advice that riders be at least 16 years old. The indictment alleged that Henry and Schooley contemplated an age limit of 14, but decided the day before the slide's grand opening to do away with age restrictions altogether, using stickers to cover age restriction language on signs posted at the attraction.

Seems more like an insurance/liability protection measure to me.

 

Again, it's important to withhold judgement until after the trial. Grand jury decisions are not nearly enough.

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In my opinion, to use this incident as an argument against the development of prototypes is wrong. There is literally nothing stopping Intamin from making a 400-foot tall hydraulic launched coaster or that guy to build the Blue Flash Mark 75 in his backyard, or anyone else from making their own amusement ride. Without prototypes, none of our favorite coasters and rides would exist.

 

That being said - the indictment makes it sound like all the necessary precautions that come with a prototype were not taken (or worse, intentionally ignored), and that's the problem.

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The indictment is terrifying and damning. This was no accident, that poor kid was doomed by adults who just wanted to make money and be featured on tv.

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So awful. That people are excusing Schlitterbahn, Jeff Henry, Tyler Miles, etc. for this is sickening. I don't think a lot of people on here have actually read the full indictment.

 

Is anyone actually doing that? It's been months and months since people were apologizing for them in the aftermath of the initial incident and demanding the calls for their head be taken down a notch because "maybe the kid stood up" and all that nonsense.

 

The lesson here should be that treating ride manufacturers, designers, and park operators as demigods is a dangerous thing to do because ultimately no matter how much of an industry legend they are, that doesn't necessarily prevent them from taking unnecessary risks with us, the paying customers.

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I hope there is no conviction or proof of intentional negligence so I can see the salt fest in this thread. That, and it will be a shame if these allegations are true.

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But my point is that being an "engineer" is not historically at any point a requirement for manufacturing big rides that we all love.

 

Well this is the stupidest thing I've ever read.

 

Are you saying that ytterbiumanalyst's factual statement is the stupidest thing you ever heard? Or are you saying that a non-engineer being allowed to manufacture a big ride is that stupidest thing you ever heard?

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But my point is that being an "engineer" is not historically at any point a requirement for manufacturing big rides that we all love.

 

Well this is the stupidest thing I've ever read.

 

It's 100% true. It was true 100 years ago when guys like Mangels got into manufacturing from being mechanics and doing assembly. Its true now with showmen who entered the biz being major forces like Zamperla and ARM. Disney's "Nine Old Men" had not a single engineer in the group.

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I honestly cannot believe in general how long Verruckt has been operating despite all of these problems. Most waterparks are different though because they hire companies and professionals to build their rides and they follow proper inspections. Schlitterbahn just hired someone with no experience and someone who decided not to rely on math and calculations to build this ride. It is unbelievable in a bad way, and after seeing that the personel of Schlitterbahn knowingly lied to the police about this, I honestly don't want to go to another Schlitterbahn property in my life, unless the other Schlitterbahn locations are proven to have better management.

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We'll see what happens. The burden of proof lies heavily on the state. As the article said, it will be difficult for the State to prove this. The state comes out hard with their facts and the defense can't afford to reveal their cards. Often times this makes the accused party appear guilty before the trial, when the defense could have substantial evidence in their favor. These are accusations with little information from the defense. From a publicity standpoint, this always presents an uphill battle. The verdict will tell the real story. Anything up until that point is a bit premature.

 

Very well said, as many people just don't understand why the accused generally look to be clearly guilty before the trial. In no way am I defending Schlitterbahn, just confirming how justice works.

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Have to admit, I only heard this news story, I haven't followed it or know much of the details. I will look into it, though from a first read it sounds like the boy was allowed on though he prob shouldnt have been (the raft being under recommended weight) or should've been seated in the middle. That said, it seems like rafts going airborne has long been an issue? Hmmmmm sounds almost like luck is the only reason something like this didn't happen sooner.

 

It's such a damn tragedy when things like this happen, not only is a child dead but its supposed to be a fun day... awful

 

As for the all the rest, it does bug me whenever people who don't know much about rides/may not even ride em suddenly have an opinion (which they are entitled to but throw it around like fact) and have their opinions influenced. Just a few days ago a friend who is from Kansas was talking about nixing a trip to this park and in fact being turned off all water parks, and ya know people always get into the "this stuff is dangerous anyway, why do we allow it/people are taking their lives at risk when riding stuff" all that craziness.

 

That said, it's seeming like there really were concerns and issues with this ride, and I'm reading all this about designers not being engineers? Look I don't care if it's happened other times, that is just flat out disturbing. Sure, historically etc etc etc but then when something like this happens...ya know we maybe have to think about it and look into that?

I know often park accidents are human error, and sometimes legit accidents happen and we accept that, but if it turns out this was actual negligence, beyond error, that is horrifying.

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Like...what exactly happened? Was it someone with no experience or knowledge that just came up with it and then they tested and tweaked it? I know that's the point of testing and tweaking but isn't a tad unnerving? That's basically like us fooling around with a coaster simulator game lol

Except ya know, if something goes wrong someone can die

 

If this is not the case, then we need to be careful what we throw around.

Edited by JJLehto
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I honestly cannot believe in general how long Verruckt has been operating despite all of these problems. Most waterparks are different though because they hire companies and professionals to build their rides and they follow proper inspections. Schlitterbahn just hired someone with no experience and someone who decided not to rely on math and calculations to build this ride. It is unbelievable in a bad way, and after seeing that the personel of Schlitterbahn knowingly lied to the police about this, I honestly don't want to go to another Schlitterbahn property in my life, unless the other Schlitterbahn locations are proven to have better management.

 

Do you have proof that Schlitterbahn relied on someone with no experience and someone who decided not to rely on math? Someone without an engineering degree could be more fluent than an engineer. I can point out some Math teachers/professors that would put some engineers to shame.

 

Imagine if the world had waited for someone with experience inventing a smart phone to invent a smart phone. Sorry Mr. Edison but you can't be building these new things, you have no experience building them. I'm not comparing the designer to Edison, just upset with the ridiculous generalizations being thrown about.

Edited by larrygator
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I'm honestly shocked you've never heard of Stan Checketts. But my point is that being an "engineer" is not historically at any point a requirement for manufacturing big rides that we all love.

I think we're going to have to disagree here. I expect anyone who designs anything to have consulted an engineer at some point. I don't care if that's a building, a road, a bridge, a vehicle, an amusement ride--have an engineer look at it at some point.

 

Henry was a inaugural inductee to the World Waterpark Association Hall of Fame and a legend in aquatics, degree or not.

Neither awards nor degrees indicate the presence of expertise, nor does the lack of them prove lack of expertise. However, the indictment specifically states "19.

Henry and Schooley lacked the technical expertise to properly design an amusement ride such as Verrückt."

 

If Henry wanted to draw this up on paper and then hire an engineer to make it safe, that would be cool. I have friends who are architects, and though they know a lot about designing things, they still have an engineer weigh in to make it safe.

 

That's not what Henry did. He hired this guy Schooley, who didn't know what he was doing--and that's stated a few times in the indictment. That was reckless.

 

That doesn't excuse what he did at all; in fact it makes it even worse. However the idea that only now is Schlitterbahn sketchy....I mean, c'mon. This is the ultimate Monday Morning Quarterbacking. It's embarassing.

I'm not just now saying it's sketchy. I had never heard of the place before they built the Kansas City one a few years ago, and even was wary enough of that place to decide against going there in favour of Oceans of Fun. I was looking into possibly going to the New Braunfels one because people say it's fun, but I don't know much about the place and I was really just beginning to look into it. So no, it's not a place I've gone to for years and just now started criticising.

 

I've been a staunch supporter of SeaWorld. I saw the Blackfish garbage and thought it terribly unfair. This San Antonio trip is built around going to SeaWorld. I just thought maybe it might be fun to hit up Schlitterbahn while we were in the area, and while I'm researching, this comes out that Verrückt was not an isolated incident, but that there were systemic problems with Schlitterbahn ownership and management. So fuck them, and we'll go have an extra day of fun at SeaWorld instead.

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We'll see what happens. The burden of proof lies heavily on the state. As the article said, it will be difficult for the State to prove this. The state comes out hard with their facts and the defense can't afford to reveal their cards. Often times this makes the accused party appear guilty before the trial, when the defense could have substantial evidence in their favor. These are accusations with little information from the defense. From a publicity standpoint, this always presents an uphill battle. The verdict will tell the real story. Anything up until that point is a bit premature.

 

Very well said, as many people just don't understand why the accused generally look to be clearly guilty before the trial. In no way am I defending Schlitterbahn, just confirming how justice works.

 

I agree with you and Zach's post and I appreciate him coming out to say how initially you can be cast in the media as guilty even before a court of law makes a decision. I was in a similar boat myself back when I was 18 and it's not fun to be judged before you even get to tell your side of the story. But back then, (luckily) there was no social media or internet, so it was only the local rag that dragged my name through the mud based on very "loose" information.

 

It's a powerful message for anyone that reads or sees something in the news and immediately makes a rash decision or judgement. But then again, I see stupid people doing just that in the comment sections of online articles - and that is really saddening.

 

That is why when the links were posted, I skipped the newspaper articles and went straight to the indictment. Like you said, we'll see what happens in trial...but man, this is really just not looking good at all for Schlitterbahn.

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I think we're going to have to disagree here. I expect anyone who designs anything to have consulted an engineer at some point. I don't care if that's a building, a road, a bridge, a vehicle, an amusement ride--have an engineer look at it at some point.

 

It isn't a thing you can disagree with. It is objective fact. Who was the engineer that built the Molina & Sons kiddie coaster a pack of fat enthusiasts is credit whoring on, for example? Where did Carl Miler go to college? The guy who designed Skycoaster is an engineer......an electrical engineer. What's different now is that A) someone is dead B) there are criminal charges C) you're being made aware that the designer wasn't an engineer.

 

Neither awards nor degrees indicate the presence of expertise, nor does the lack of them prove lack of expertise. However, the indictment specifically states "19.

Henry and Schooley lacked the technical expertise to properly design an amusement ride such as Verrückt."

 

What does confer experience is having actually done something, not a piece of paper. Yes, the prosecutor is arguing that as a non-engineer, he lacked sufficient experience to build the ride. The actual reality is that he was likely the most experienced water slide innovator in the world. His CV is inargurable. And as such, let me repeat that this fact makes the callous way the park appears in the prosecutor's case that much worse.

 

If Henry wanted to draw this up on paper and then hire an engineer to make it safe, that would be cool. I have friends who are architects, and though they know a lot about designing things, they still have an engineer weigh in to make it safe.

 

Your friends don't necessarily need an engineer (or to even be architects!) either depending on what it is and where. Ever hear of a "home builder license"?

Edited by DirkFunk
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I believe the allegation in the indictment says that Jeff Henry designed and oversaw the the building of the ride with no evidence of any dynamic engineering ever having been done (by an engineer, a mathematician, or anyone with any kind of professional experience). I totally understand the whole build and go through trial and error then correct and try again scenario but it seems that they even ignored that as they knew the rafts were going airborne. They either didn't understand, didn't care to understand, or blatantly ignored the engineer who did the accelerometer testing and reported that even at 550 lbs the rafts would likely become airborne. There appears to be solid evidence of substandard maintenance. This all points to terrifying gross negligence and disregard for patron safety. My question before visiting any of their properties would be is the problem systemic to the whole company or isolated to this one park in the chain.

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I believe the allegation in the indictment says that Jeff Henry designed and oversaw the the building of the ride with no evidence of any dynamic engineering ever having been done (by an engineer, a mathematician, or anyone with any kind of professional experience). I totally understand the whole build and go through trial and error then correct and try again scenario but it seems that they even ignored that as they knew the rafts were going airborne. They either didn't understand, didn't care to understand, or blatantly ignored the engineer who did the accelerometer testing and reported that even at 550 lbs the rafts would likely become airborne. There appears to be solid evidence of substandard maintenance. This all points to terrifying gross negligence and disregard for patron safety. My question before visiting any of their properties would be is the problem systemic to the whole country or isolated to this one park in the chain.

 

 

Seriously.

I love rides, I have defended them to people (even after accidents and tragedies) I am not one to jump to conclusions or get swept up in frenzy. Even in this case I personally don't have an opinion yet, just wanna look at everything, and us park lovers have to be realistic and open minded otherwise we end up like the "masses" we often make fun of.... It does seem there is a legitimate case for negligence. I get accidents happen, often its human error and sometimes plain on accident, I get and accept that rides are still safer than most other things (My friend just got his neck pretty hurt on some go karts!) but if this is actual negligence, we need to accept that.

 

As for your other question, my guess is a single park incident. I have never heard anything about Schlitterbahn as a whole before

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What does confer experience is having actually done something, not a piece of paper.

I'm not talking about experience; I'm talking about expertise. I can have experience doing something and not actually know what I'm doing. Conversely I can never have done something before but have expertise because of similar relevant things I've done and learned from.

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