5 things to know about the Kansas water slide death

Combined ShapeCaption
Tragedy on World's Tallest Waterslide

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Caleb Schwab died while riding a water slide at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, police said.

In the aftermath of his death, concerns have risen about the safety of the ride and the lack of federal regulations on rides at American theme parks.

Though some of the details are still vague, here's what you should know about Schwab's death:

1. Who is Caleb Schwab?

Caleb Thomas Schwab, 10, was the son of state Rep. Scott Schwab and his wife Michele, according to the Kansas City Star. The Schwabs released a statement Sunday evening:

"Since the day he was born, he brought abundant joy to our family and all those who he came into contact with. As we try to mend our home with him no longer with us, we are comforted knowing he believed in his Saviour, Jesus, and they are forever together now. We will see him another day."

House Speaker Ray Merrick told the Kansas City Star that Scott Schwab's family was "the center of his world."

2. What happened?

Calbe Schwab was riding Verruckt at the Schlitterbahn Water Park on Sunday round 2:30 p.m. when he suffered a fatal injury.

An eyewitness said Schwab was ejected from his seat in the raft.

"It looked like he must have somehow been ejected from his seat, bounced around between the netting and the slide and just slid down," Kelsey Friedrichsen told People.

Caleb was in a raft with two adult women who were not related to him. Both women suffered facial injuries in the incident.

Kansas authorities initially said the boy died from a neck injury. The Associated Press later confirmed that Caleb was decapitated.

3. What details are known about the water slide?

Verruckt, recognized by Guinness as the world's tallest water slide, translates from German to "insane."

The water slide is 168 feet tall and features a 17-story drop that riders go down in multi-person rafts. Each rider must be at least 54 inches tall.

The park's website touts the ride as the "ultimate in water slide thrills," subjecting "adventure seekers" with a "jaw dropping" 17-story drop, "only to be blasted back up a second massive hill and then sent down yet another gut wrenching 50 foot drop."

At least two people who've ridden the waterslide have said shoulder straps snapped or popped off during the ride.

One man said that the safety restraints on his raft on the Verruckt waterslide weren't working properly when he rode it on July 26. Paul Oberhauser told KCTV that his shoulder strap "busted loose" during the ride, and he "just held on." He said he told workers about the loose strap.

A witness on Sunday, who had gone down the slide earlier that day, also noted issues with restraints on the ride. Esteban Castaneda told KABC that a 14-year-old family member who was in the raft with him said that the Velcro on her safety belt had come undone.
Schlitterbahn Water Park issued a statement, saying the company is "deeply and intensely saddened for the Schwab family and all who were impacted by the tragic accident." The water park closed following the incident.

4. What about safety regulations?

A Schlitterbahn spokesman told a local Kansas news station that all rides are inspected daily by personnel before the park opens.

Under Kansas law, amusement ride inspections are required, but self-inspections are allowed. Parks may hire an outside inspector to inspect the ride once a year.

Theme parks with "fixed" rides, like roller coasters and water slides, are exempt from federal oversight. Regulations vary by state. Currently, 44 of 50 states regulate amusement parks. Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah do not regulate amusement parks on a state level.

5. What's next? 

The case is being investigated as a civil, rather than, criminal matter.