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Boy Killed On Water Slide 'Believed In His Savior Jesus'

08-10-2016

The 10-year-old son of Kansas state representative Scott Schwab was killed while riding the world's tallest water slide at a Kansas City water park in the latest in a string of disturbing amusement park accidents.

The parents of Caleb Schwab, Republican state Rep. Scott Schwab and his wife, Michele, thanked the public for the "outpouring of support and compassion."

Pastor Clint Sprague, the spokesperson for the Schwab family, said they're heartbroken. He said Caleb was a hugger who loved his parents, sports and Jesus.

In a statement released by the pastor, the couple wrote of their son: "Since the day he was born, he brought abundant joy to our family and all those who he came in contact with. As we try and mend our home with him no longer with us, we are comforted knowing he believed in his Savior, Jesus, and they are forever together now. We will see him another day."

"Your continued prayers are welcome and appreciated. We appreciate your understanding of our family's need for privacy during this difficult time of grieving," they added.

The boy's funeral is scheduled to take place Friday, according to ABC 7 News.

An investigation into the horrific death is ongoing, however witnesses speaking to the media said the boy was ejected from his seat while riding Verruckt at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City.

"Verruckt," which means "insane" in German, is one of the park's main attractions. It's an astounding 168 feet tall, which is taller than the Statue of Liberty and Niagra Falls. It was reportedly built at Schlitterbahn because that park lacks height restrictions. 

Verruckt is a ride with three people in a raft, which then drops 17 stories, blasts up a second massive hill, and then drops 5 stories, all at speeds that reach 70 miles per hour. 

Riders must be at least 54 inches tall and it's unclear whether Caleb met that requirement. Caleb was riding with two unrelated women. Both of the women sustained minor facial injuries.

ABC News talked with Esteban Castaneda, who said he saw what happened at the end of Caleb's ride. He described Caleb's raft emerging from the slide into a pool, with the front seat empty, and then reportedly saw Caleb's body wash down the slide directly after the raft. Castaneda said the boy appeared to have been decapitated.

A police statement said the boy died of a "fatal neck injury at the end of the ride," but later confirmed to Time that he had been decapitated.

Castaneda said earlier in the day his teenage relative noticed her safety belt's Velcro came undone while riding "Verruckt." 

Leslie Castaneda reportedly told KMBC that the victim's brother saw what happened.

"The little boy said to a worker, 'I just saw my little brother die because of one of your attractions. (Caleb) looked skinny. He shouldn't have been on that ride.'"

Another park guest, Jessica Lundquist told KSHB, "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."

Schlitterbahn spokesperson Winter Prosapio said, "We honestly don't know what happened. That's why an investigation, a full investigation, is necessary."

The park issued a statement Monday saying it was "deeply and intensely saddened for the Schwab family and all who were impacted by the tragic accident." 

The water park closed following the incident but will reopen Wednesday although the slide will remained closed. 

Verruckt's scheduled opening in 2014 was twice delayed reportedly due to safety concerns, including one in which the weighted rafts were detaching from the slide rafts and flying off into the air.

Schlitterbahn co-owner, Jeff Henry, reportedly said that there were engineering challenges behind the design with calculations originally based on roller coasters rather than water slides, according to USA Today.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, last year 30,000 children under the age of 18 were injured on amusement park rides and water slides. According to another study in 2013 by Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, more than one-quarter of the injuries to children are to the head and neck, with nearly 2 percent of those requiring hospitalization.
 

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