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Accidental death at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City.


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I would assume Six Flags would only touch it if they don't have to assume the liabilities from the incident.

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That's terrifying.

 

I wonder what condition their other parks are in. I would imagine that we are looking at a systemic failure here. I could be wrong, but I struggle to see one park in a chain with so many critical deficiencies, and the other parks being steller examples of safety.

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I'm not claiming to be an expert, but the violations could have been something as simple as an additional exit sign or something so miniscule. It's all speculation untill we see the infractions.

 

This type of thing happens in all types of businesses. We used to run a haunted attraction during October, and had to jump thru all kinds of hoops with inspectors. We had a clearly marked and lit exit door inside our attraction, but they also wanted us to paint exit arrows on the grass outside of the exit. The exit spilled directly into a grassy field with no obstructions. Another example was the tent we used for the attraction had the fire certificate in a waterproof sleeve on the inside of the tent. That was unacceptable to them. They wanted it sewn to the inside of the tent. That's just 2 of the so called"major" violations" we had before they would allow us to open.

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It's important to understand that state inspectors do not make it up as they go along. They simply enforce the laws. In the pdf, they state things like this:

 

Safety signage shall meet all F2376 section 12.4 requirements. Signage shall reference minimum/maximum heightand weight (12.4.3.2), obey slide attendant (12.4.1.5), dispatch procedures (12.4.1.3).

So they're going to be looking for those three things, and they'll check off whether they are in place. In this case, they were not, and it has been noted as such.

 

My only experience with inspectors is in the food service industry, but I can't imagine the procedure is much different. They go in with a checklist to see if the business is complying with the law, and they write down what they find.

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I'm not claiming to be an expert, but the violations could have been something as simple as an additional exit sign or something so miniscule. It's all speculation untill we see the infractions.

 

This type of thing happens in all types of businesses. We used to run a haunted attraction during October, and had to jump thru all kinds of hoops with inspectors. We had a clearly marked and lit exit door inside our attraction, but they also wanted us to paint exit arrows on the grass outside of the exit. The exit spilled directly into a grassy field with no obstructions. Another example was the tent we used for the attraction had the fire certificate in a waterproof sleeve on the inside of the tent. That was unacceptable to them. They wanted it sewn to the inside of the tent. That's just 2 of the so called"major" violations" we had before they would allow us to open.

 

Read the report. It's very clear the park management had no understanding of ASTM standards. Missing signage, missing documentation, incomplete training...

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I'm not claiming to be an expert, but the violations could have been something as simple as an additional exit sign or something so miniscule. It's all speculation untill we see the infractions.

 

This type of thing happens in all types of businesses. We used to run a haunted attraction during October, and had to jump thru all kinds of hoops with inspectors. We had a clearly marked and lit exit door inside our attraction, but they also wanted us to paint exit arrows on the grass outside of the exit. The exit spilled directly into a grassy field with no obstructions. Another example was the tent we used for the attraction had the fire certificate in a waterproof sleeve on the inside of the tent. That was unacceptable to them. They wanted it sewn to the inside of the tent. That's just 2 of the so called"major" violations" we had before they would allow us to open.

 

You can read the whole thing here: https://www.dol.ks.gov/Files/PDF/SchlitterbahnAuditReport.pdf

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I'm not claiming to be an expert, but the violations could have been something as simple as an additional exit sign or something so miniscule. It's all speculation untill we see the infractions.

Normally I'd agree with you, but those sorts of infractions are on pretty much every attraction, according to that audit. A lack of adequate safety signage, a lack of reference manuals for the slides, a lack of documented training and communication procedures, no available inspection reports...

 

Apparently they haven't been doing the proper parts replacement / upkeep for their Soaring Eagle zip line either.

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I've said it a few times before here, but until last year, there were no regulations on amusement attractions in the state of Kansas.

 

Let me repeat it one more time. Until last year, there were no regulations on amusement attractions. None.

 

There was no need for any inspections.

 

No certifications.

 

No reviews of standard operating procedures. There didn't need to be any. It didn't matter.

 

What probably happened with Schlitterbahn is that they got caught out by actually having to play by a rule book at the same time their management was getting arrested left and right. Putting together a proper manual for cleaning and maintenance of a pump system took a back seat to getting lawyers and worrying about extradition. This isn't an excuse; just a point about what we take for granted sometimes not being what we think it is.

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I agree with most of what you are saying, however....

 

They "may have" had the proper manuals and training, but just did not have the paperwork in the proper location. I believe it was mentioned that the proper signage was not at the slide, but the signs were in the office?

 

Either way it's sloppy on the parks behalf. The point that I was trying to make was that the park "may have" had the proper paperwork and training, but just did not have it where it was satisfactory to to inspector. Just like the example I used for our fire certificate. In our report, they said we did not have the proper fire certification, even though we did. It just was not in the location that the inspector wanted it. We fixed that, and had him return the next day and he passed us.

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I've said it a few times before here, but until last year, there were no regulations on amusement attractions in the state of Kansas.

 

Let me repeat it one more time. Until last year, there were no regulations on amusement attractions. None.

 

There was no need for any inspections.

 

No certifications.

 

No reviews of standard operating procedures. There didn't need to be any. It didn't matter.

 

What probably happened with Schlitterbahn is that they got caught out by actually having to play by a rule book at the same time their management was getting arrested left and right. Putting together a proper manual for cleaning and maintenance of a pump system took a back seat to getting lawyers and worrying about extradition. This isn't an excuse; just a point about what we take for granted sometimes not being what we think it is.

 

However, ASTM standards have existed long before 2017....

 

If you are a theme park/water park who cares about safety, you would be hiring outside auditors on a yearly basis to ensure compliance with ASTM standards.

 

The report demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of anything related to ASTM.

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^ The only issue with that is unless a federal or statewide agency "adopts" ATSM standards, they are only considered recommendations. They fall in the same vein as ANSI and the NFPA. I wish more companies were proactive with hiring outside consulting to ensure compliance, but sadly that's not the case. Usually when consulting companies are brought in for safety compliance assistance it's after the fact, when they've already been inspected by OSHA or had an accident. Often times it's even forced by OSHA to have their case abated. It doesn't surprise me with Schlitterbahn's track record that they never went above and beyond to ensure compliance.

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I wish a Park who does not follow ASTM standards good luck in winning a lawsuit brought against them.

 

They are widely recognized as the unofficial standard in the industry, which is why states with amusement ride laws more or less come out to “follow ASTM standards please”

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Reading between the lines of the audit and knowing they are the manufacturers it's pretty clear no manuals or documentation were ever created when these rides were built.

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I wish a Park who does not follow ASTM standards good luck in winning a lawsuit brought against them.

 

They are widely recognized as the unofficial standard in the industry, which is why states with amusement ride laws more or less come out to “follow ASTM standards please”

 

Kansas also limits awards to people suing. In schlitterbahn's case, they seem to have settled for a very high amount in the hopes of keeping details secret as suits are public. But IIRC the max award is 250k for damages in that state.

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Interesting. So maintainers didn't reinstall something. That doesn't bode well for them.

 

They screwed themselves, they lied and said there was no brake mat ever installed on hill 2 until investigators showed them pictures that there was and then they changed their story.

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To be honest, they probably wouldn't have been charged if they had just complied with the investigators and told the truth, since they were acting under the direction of Schooley and Henry.

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since they were acting under the direction of Schooley and Henry.

 

Were they? What evidence supports that they were specifically told to not reinstall the mat?

 

I don't see where there was a reason not to. Certainly no upside for upper management to direct it not be reinstalled.

 

 

Simple repair, done after hours.

 

I can maybe see not shutting it down that day, but no reason not to repair overnight/next morning before opening.

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Everything they did was under the supervision of upper management. As their superiors, they are ultimately responsible for the maintenance workers' actions. It doesn't matter if they were or weren't directly told, at the end of the day their superiors failed to properly supervise them, resulting in blatant negligence. The maintenance employees were charged with obstruction of justice for changing their stories and lying to law enforcement. That has nothing to do with repairing a mat or any of the other negligence charges. All they needed to do was tell the truth and they probably would've been fine.

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Simple repair, done after hours.

 

I can maybe see not shutting it down that day, but no reason not to repair overnight/next morning before opening.

 

No. That's not how rides should be run. You DO NOT run rides or attractions without safety components functioning and in place. Period. End of Story. If a raft has velcro straps that are about to fail, it should be removed from service, and the others that have been inspected and found okay can continue to run, sure. But brakes that are required to keep rafts running at a safe speed are not optional. Even for the rest of the afternoon. If you can't make that repair while the park is open, sucks to suck. Get ready to hand out comp tickets or something, but you don't try and limp through the rest of the day like that.

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Simple repair, done after hours.

 

I can maybe see not shutting it down that day, but no reason not to repair overnight/next morning before opening.

 

No. That's not how rides should be run.

 

Didn't say it should be done that way, just that I can see the thought process (wrong as it is) and external pressures that could lead to not shutting down a big draw like that slide.

 

I can't phantom what would lead them to not repair it after hours.

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Everything they did was under the supervision of upper management. As their superiors, they are ultimately responsible for the maintenance workers' actions.

 

Sure, but the comments were implying that those two were specifically instructed to do/not do something.

 

If they acted on their own, the liability falls differently.

 

Big difference in a subordinate not doing as trained/instructed and a supervisor instructing them to do things wrong. Of course how the supervisor handles it when they learn of the error matters too.

 

If Joe on in the maintenance shop makes a mistake that kills someone, the CEO is not likely to be convicted of manslaughter. Joe would be. Possibly his direct supervisor. But not management 4 or 5 levels removed.

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