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Accidental death at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City.


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As someone who has ridden the ride and has seen footage of it in action this season, I think I have a good idea of what happened. If you know about the build of the ride and changes that were made, feel free to skip to the last paragraph.

 

Based on this video, it seems that they have removed the rubber bumps and possibly the vertical stops at some point this year. Here are before and after pictures of the drop, before on the right after on the left.

 

The ride is definitely running faster then it did when it opened, as shown by these 2014 and

. I rode the ride in 2015, and it was as slow over the top as the first video.

 

And the deciding factor that I'm assuming caused the accident: The Water Cannon. When they did the redesign of the ride and slowed it down, water cannons were added to help propel the tube over the hill. So far these hadn't had issues, but I think they were the biggest factor in this incident. Based on the dent in the netting after the accident the tube clearly ended up in the net. In addition, the front two passengers were injured - (FoxNews 4 KC "The women are from north of Hays, Kan. One suffered a broken jaw, and the other a broken bone in her face and had to have stitches in her eye.") The fatality was in the back of the tube.

 

So my assumption is the tube had a bit too much speed over the hill, caught a bit of air, and the second push from the water cannon ended up pushing the tube up into the netting, where the back was pushed the highest and hardest.

 

Interesting. I did not know they had modified the slide this year. Now, you say the fatality happened on the back of the raft, but I have read the riders are normally placed in order of increasing weight from front to back, which would have placed the victim, whom I assume was lightest, in the front. Was that not your experience on the ride?

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There are a lot of things that don't appear to bode well for the park....

 

1. The fact it's a smaller family owned company. - Liability insurance is for this type of loss.

2. The fact it was designed in-house (no manufacturer/engineer to name as co-defendants) - Liability insurance again should cover this.

3. The marketing statements (wasn't there also video of it ejected rafts?) - That was before the slope changes and other ride modifications.

4. The whole son of a state representative thing. - This is Kansas. I am not sure the Koch Republicans are in any type of hurry to regulate or punish business.

 

The ride may not fair so well but aren't people riding Texas Giant again? How long did it take SF over Texas take to recover?

 

This is sad that it happened. Fortunately, water and amusement parks are relatively fatality free when compared with the cars that most people use to drive to the parks so future deaths should continue to be minimal. Roller coasters and commercial airplanes are still some of the most statistically safest ways to travel. I am not sure where water slides fit in but you rarely hear of more than one or two deaths a year so they can't be much worse. I would be more afraid of drowning in the wave pool than the slides.

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Interesting. I did not know they had modified the slide this year. Now, you say the fatality happened on the back of the raft, but I have read the riders are normally placed in order of increasing weight from front to back, which would have placed the victim, whom I assume was lightest, in the front. Was that not your experience on the ride?

 

My mistake, for some reason I remembered it being light to heavy, I was incorrect.

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I wanted to clear a few things up for you all since I see some disinformation here.

 

There have been issues with the restraints in the past as mentioned in this article:

www.kshb.com/news/local-news/kck-police-investigating-death-at-schlitterbahn

"A lady in front of me said that multiple times she rode the ride today, the Verruckt, and that the front harness did not work any of the times that she rode it,” said Jessica Lundquist, park guest.

 

My son was also on this ride just last Friday and he mentioned to me that his shoulder harness came loose during the ride and he was basically only held in the boat by hanging on to the rope/handles as you are instructed to do in the safety talk. He was in the back seat though.

 

These harnesses are basically just Velcro. I was surprised to see that when I rode it 2 years ago. Is that standard for these type of rides?

 

You can see here how the attendant just lays the belt/Velcro down over the chest of the rider. There are no buckles.:

 

I am not saying this is what caused the accident; but it could very well have contributed.

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There are a lot of things that don't appear to bode well for the park....

 

1. The fact it's a smaller family owned company. - Liability insurance is for this type of loss.

2. The fact it was designed in-house (no manufacturer/engineer to name as co-defendants) - Liability insurance again should cover this.

3. The marketing statements (wasn't there also video of it ejected rafts?) - That was before the slope changes and other ride modifications.

4. The whole son of a state representative thing. - This is Kansas. I am not sure the Koch Republicans are in any type of hurry to regulate or punish business.

 

The ride may not fair so well but aren't people riding Texas Giant again? How long did it take SF over Texas take to recover?

 

This is sad that it happened. Fortunately, water and amusement parks are relatively fatality free when compared with the cars that most people use to drive to the parks so future deaths should continue to be minimal. Roller coasters and commercial airplanes are still some of the most statistically safest ways to travel. I am not sure where water slides fit in but you rarely hear of more than one or two deaths a year so they can't be much worse. I would be more afraid of drowning in the wave pool than the slides.

 

Unfortunately, your point of stating what's statistically likely doesn't address the variables that caused this to happen. In this case, we'd say this ride is a clear outlier on the safety spectrum. At some point in the development of this attraction, there was gross oversight (seems in this case it was the decision to use of Velcro restraints) and unless that issue is addressed, it could very well happen again.

 

Hopefully they can find a suitable safety measure that will allow them to continue to operate the attraction, but I'm not sure they'll be able to do so without a significant investment or seriously decreasing ride capacity.

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I watched the Nancy Grace show at the gym tonight. Not because I watch Nancy Grace on a regular basis, who I think is a presumptuous blow hard ratings hungry idiot, but because she had a segment on the water slide accident. She and a couple other guests are calling for Federal regulations on roller coasters. These ignorant cries are what enthusiasts should be concerned with if you don't want OTSR on Hypers, RMC's,... log flumes.... antique car rides... etc. (slight exaggeration... maybe) There aren't many things the Federal government does well and when it comes to safety their answer will likely be to way over do it to reduce their liability. I'm not necessarily saying that this is going to happen, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease and she and her attention hungry cronies are very squeaky. I laughed out loud when she suggested criminal charges for whoever is responsible for this. Hillary doesn't get charged because there is no intent, but you're going to have the potential to send an 18 year old college kid to prison for making a mistake... Civil law exists for a reason. There's no need for that kind of retribution here unless someone intentionally did something harmful.

 

Unfortunately, your point of stating what's statistically likely doesn't address the variables that caused this to happen. In this case, we'd say this ride is a clear outlier on the safety spectrum. At some point in the development of this attraction, there was gross oversight (seems in this case it was the decision to use of Velcro restraints) and unless that issue is addressed, it could very well happen again.

 

Hopefully they can find a suitable safety measure that will allow them to continue to operate the attraction, but I'm not sure they'll be able to do so without a significant investment or seriously decreasing ride capacity.

 

Don't jump so quickly to conclusions. Unless you're investigating this incident or you personally witnessed it, it's too early to draw these conclusions.

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According to David Muir on "World News Tonight" the waterslide is

 

"the tallest in the world, taller than the Empire State Building"

 

yes, he really said that.

 

Wow. . .

 

Does that mean he thinks Top Thrill Dragster would reach from here to the moon and back?? Some people.

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According to David Muir on "World News Tonight" the waterslide is

 

"the tallest in the world, taller than the Empire State Building"

 

yes, he really said that.

 

Wow. . .

 

Does that mean he thinks Top Thrill Dragster would reach from here to the moon and back?? Some people.

Imagine how much higher it would go since gravity is less the farther you went up, before being swung towards the moon, and then descend to Earth. That would need a break run the size of Ohio itself.

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There are a lot of things that don't appear to bode well for the park....

 

1. The fact it's a smaller family owned company. - Liability insurance is for this type of loss.

2. The fact it was designed in-house (no manufacturer/engineer to name as co-defendants) - Liability insurance again should cover this.

3. The marketing statements (wasn't there also video of it ejected rafts?) - That was before the slope changes and other ride modifications.

4. The whole son of a state representative thing. - This is Kansas. I am not sure the Koch Republicans are in any type of hurry to regulate or punish business.

 

The ride may not fair so well but aren't people riding Texas Giant again? How long did it take SF over Texas take to recover?

 

This is sad that it happened. Fortunately, water and amusement parks are relatively fatality free when compared with the cars that most people use to drive to the parks so future deaths should continue to be minimal. Roller coasters and commercial airplanes are still some of the most statistically safest ways to travel. I am not sure where water slides fit in but you rarely hear of more than one or two deaths a year so they can't be much worse. I would be more afraid of drowning in the wave pool than the slides.

 

Six Flags is a publicly traded corporation with a market cap of 5 billion dollars. Schlitterbahn is a family owned small chain. The resources available to both are likely not the same. Insurance has limits. Changes WERE made to the ride, but as Allen pointed out, that doesn't necessarily matter with our legal system. Perhaps no regulation may come from this, but I would imagine the dad is surely making some phone calls to make sure a full and proper investigation is conducted (which may not bode well for the company depending on what is discovered).

 

Of course, it's all speculation at this point. This is just my opinion with nothing much to go off of at this point.

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Six Flags is a publicly traded corporation with a market cap of 5 billion dollars. Schlitterbahn is a family owned small chain. The resources available to both are likely not the same. Insurance has limits. Changes WERE made to the ride, but as Allen pointed out, that doesn't necessarily matter with our legal system. Perhaps no regulation may come from this, but I would imagine the dad is surely making some phone calls to make sure a full and proper investigation is conducted (which may not bode well for the company depending on what is discovered).

 

Of course, it's all speculation at this point. This is just my opinion with nothing much to go off of at this point.

 

Basically this. There's many ways this plays out. In the meantime, someone's kid is dead and a couple people are injured at no apparent fault of their own. No matter what happens next or how the report ultimately plays out, this should be kept in mind.

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As someone who has ridden the ride and has seen footage of it in action this season, I think I have a good idea of what happened. If you know about the build of the ride and changes that were made, feel free to skip to the last paragraph.

 

Based on this video, it seems that they have removed the rubber bumps and possibly the vertical stops at some point this year. Here are before and after pictures of the drop, before on the right after on the left.

 

The ride is definitely running faster then it did when it opened, as shown by these 2014 and

. I rode the ride in 2015, and it was as slow over the top as the first video.

 

And the deciding factor that I'm assuming caused the accident: The Water Cannon. When they did the redesign of the ride and slowed it down, water cannons were added to help propel the tube over the hill. So far these hadn't had issues, but I think they were the biggest factor in this incident. Based on the dent in the netting after the accident the tube clearly ended up in the net. In addition, the back two passengers were injured - (FoxNews 4 KC "The women are from north of Hays, Kan. One suffered a broken jaw, and the other a broken bone in her face and had to have stitches in her eye.") The fatality was in the back of the tube.

 

So my assumption is the tube had a bit too much speed over the hill, caught a bit of air, and the second push from the water cannon ended up pushing the tube up into the netting.

 

Very interesting that they removed that rubber on the drop. That 2016 video was way faster than I have ever seen. Looks like the raft was catching some air and I could see a lighter raft flying up and hitting the net structure. Even if belted in, doesn't matter.

 

RIP.

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^ So the boy was seated in front? And his headless body slid down the flume behind the raft? That means his restraints must have failed. It also explains all the blood in the run off area.

 

That plus an additional account of the Velcro restraint failing for someone else certainly indicates that.

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^ ^^That, or the front, if not the entire raft, went airborn, and his hitting the netting ripped him out of the restraints, which is also possible. It is all interesting, but just to soon to reach any real conclusions.

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The official cause of death, according to Kansas City police, was "neck injury"

 

From http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/07/us/kansas-schlitterbahn-water-park-child-death/

The 10-year-old son of a Kansas state legislator, who was killed riding on the world's tallest water slide, died from a neck injury, Kansas City police said Monday.

 

Police and firefighters found Caleb Thomas Schwab in the pool at the end of the ride on Sunday, police said. The circumstances of the boy's death are still being investigated, police said.

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The thing that gets me is the netting. Why was it there? Most likely to prevent a boat from flying off a ride. I'm sorry, but as an engineer myself, I would have NEVER felt good about signing off on something where the "fail safe" is still a catastrophic accident.

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Let's do some simple math. How many people have riden this ride? Opened in 2014, so 3 seasons. 120 day season max in KC. From videos all over I estimate a 5 minute interval at best and 12 hour operating day. Season 3 has not even completed.

 

3 (riders) X 12 (intervals per hour) X 12(hours per day) X 120 (days per year) X 3 (seasons) = 155,520 maximum possible riders on the attraction in its life. This number is clearly highs it assumes 100% up time. There are storms in KC.

 

Millions have not been on this ride.

 

Why was his brother not with him? My kids were generally at the 50th percentile. So a 10 year old boy is about 75lbs a 12 year old about 100lbs. Minimum total riders weight is 400lbs so the third rider would need to weight 225lbs. That's genrally approaching obesity for the average male.

 

Let's assume this boy weighs 100lbs, each adult female he was paired with would have to weigh 150lbs to meet the minimum total rider weight.

 

Carry on.

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The thing that gets me is the netting. Why was it there? Most likely to prevent a boat from flying off a ride. I'm sorry, but as an engineer myself, I would have NEVER felt good about signing off on something where the "fail safe" is still a catastrophic accident.

 

My guess is that it was not in any of the original plans and was the only added after rafts flew out of the trough. I guess they figured that keeping the raft from landing on someone else or causing additional injuries from the fall to the riders was their best option to minimize loss. I am also guessing he hit one of those u-shaped support posts holding the net and not the net itself to injury his neck like that. Either way, it did end up being a bad design. I thought we learned in Roller Coaster Tycoon that negative air should not be anywhere near a raft vehicle that wasn't locked down to the track.

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Let's do some simple math. How many people have riden this ride? Opened in 2014, so 3 seasons. 120 day season max in KC. From videos all over I estimate a 5 minute interval at best and 12 hour operating day. Season 3 has not even completed.

 

3 (riders) X 12 (intervals per hour) X 12(hours per day) X 120 (days per year) X 3 (seasons) = 155,520 maximum possible riders on the attraction in its life. This number is clearly highs it assumes 100% up time. There are storms in KC.

 

Millions have not been on this ride.

 

Why was his brother not with him? My kids were generally at the 50th percentile. So a 10 year old boy is about 75lbs a 12 year old about 100lbs. Minimum total riders weight is 400lbs so the third rider would need to weight 225lbs. That's genrally approaching obesity for the average male.

 

Let's assume this boy weighs 100lbs, each adult female he was paired with would have to weigh 150lbs to meet the minimum total rider weight.

 

Carry on.

From only judging the pictures of the boy, he probably weighed closer to 75 lbs than 100 lbs. But even if he did weigh 75 lbs, each of the other riders would only need to weigh around 163 lbs...

 

Edit: I now see what you're saying about the reason for his brother not being with him.

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3 (riders) X 12 (intervals per hour) X 12(hours per day) X 120 (days per year) X 3 (seasons) = 155,520 maximum possible riders on the attraction in its life. This number is clearly highs it assumes 100% up time. There are storms in KC.

 

Millions have not been on this ride.

 

Why was his brother not with him?

 

Would you not go on the ride because only 155,520 people had ridden it safely without dying? So maybe millions haven't ridden it but most people assume something at a big amusement or water park is safe until someone dies. The rides are supposed to look scary but not actually harm you. Perhaps his brother was too scared to ride with him or they split up after leaving the parents. I just probably wouldn't blame the parents but I was one of those kids that was allowed to ride my bike around the neighborhood during the 1970s and 1980s before you were required to be watched 24-7. I would just say I would be back by dinner and rode off into the sunset. Or down the block. Whatever was closer.

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Speaking of this accident. . . I'm sick of getting on any form of social media and seeing a blood covered slide. . . I get it... when there's a "decapitation" there's going to be a lot of blood. . . But seeing the runout and the "blaster" part of the slide covered in blood makes me cringe.

 

I never rode this slide before, and I will never ride this slide now... that simple. Social media and blood coved slide have traumatized me.

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