KANSAS CITY — A Kansas City water park will shut down the world’s largest water slide in response to an accident that killed a 10-year-old boy in August.
Caleb Thomas Schwab died from a neck injury August 7 while riding the 17-story Verrückt water slide.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Schlitterbahn said its staff are “heartbroken over the tragedy that occurred on Verrückt” and that they are continuing to work with investigators, families and their attorneys.
“Once the investigation is concluded and we are given permission by the court, Verrückt will be decommissioned — closed permanently and the slide removed from the tower. In our opinion, it is the only proper course of action following this tragedy,” the company said. “We will, at some point in the future, announce what will be built in its place.”
The Verrückt water slide, named for the German word for “insane,” is 168 feet 7 inches tall — taller than Niagara Falls.
It required two to three riders to be strapped into a raft and sent plummeting down the slide before being blasted back up a second hill and then sent down another drop, the park’s website said.
The Guinness Book of World Records certified it as the world’s tallest slide in May 2014. It is five feet taller than the previous record holder, a water slide at a Rio de Janeiro country club.
Verrückt was built in Kansas City because the Schlitterbahn park didn’t have a height restriction, designer John Schooley told CNN when it opened.
The slide opened to the public in July 2014 after several weeks of delays. Technical glitches forced the original May 23 opening date to be pushed back three times, a park spokesperson told CNN at the time.
Despite these issues, the amusement park passed a safety inspection conducted by an insurance company on June 7, 2016.
There are an average of 4,423 injuries in US amusement parks each year, according a 2013 study by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
The study used Consumer Product Safety Commission information on children who were taken to emergency rooms for amusement ride injuries over 20 years.
The injuries ranged from head and neck problems to injuries to the face, arms and legs. Soft-tissue injuries — damage to ligaments, muscles and tendons — were the most common. Serious injuries made up a small percentage.