In 2016 a 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was killed while riding down the world’s highest waterslide. During the descent the raft that he and two women were riding in became airborne and Caleb was struck and decapitated by the overhead safety bars.
Now courts have determined that the company who ran the waterpark were so shockingly incompetent in their design, and so clearly aware of the slides lethal flaws, that the waterslide itself could be considered a “deadly weapon”. Now the owners will face charges of manslaughter and not just criminal negligence.
AHHHHHH pic.twitter.com/yTuSbhYp7A— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) 23 March 2018
Schlitterbahn, the company that owns and runs the park, have been indicted and the courts lay bare just how incompetent the park and its owners were. Not only was the slide designed and built by a team with no prior experience engineering amusement park rides, but it was rushed hastily into production just so the park could advertise about its record-breaking height. Furthermore, the Verrückt slide, the world’s tallest of its kind, was shut down multiple times after various people complained that the slide caused your raft to go airborne.
“The ride was never properly or fully designed to prevent rafts from going airborne,” the indictment reads. The full document reads like an increasingly bizarre piece of fiction it is so outlandish. Not only did the ride’s owners destroy safety reports, ignore failed tests, rushed the testing and design, ignored all injuries that occurred during its life, but they even sent lawyers to intimidate teenage employees of the park who considered reporting incidents to the police.
Bizarrely the motivation for all of this? So the park’s owner could gloat to the other companies that he had the tallest slide and impress a travelling TV show. In some news pieces he can be seen boasting about the rushed design and how he made the slide with no prior experience, something that in hindsight made the death of a young child a complete inevitability. In the 189 days the slide was functional it injured 13 people and caused a the temporary blindness of a 15-year-old girl.
Tulsa World Former water park executive charged after child's death on Schlitterbahn waterslide Tulsa World FILE - In this July 9, 2014 file photo, riders are propelled by jets of water as they go over a hump while riding a water slide called "Verruckt"… https://t.co/4npP79IXSQ pic.twitter.com/QKLx5PemwI— US Live News (@USLiveNews) 24 March 2018
Now it looks like the company’s co-founders have pushed the limits of what can be considered incompetence. They will be charged with manslaughter, aggravated battery, aggravated endangerment of a child, interference with law enforcement, and many, many other crimes. Considering just how obviously preventable this death was, and how bizarre it is that so many people didn’t see how their behaviour was recklessly negligent, we think the owners get everything they deserve.