By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) – A 10-year-old boy, the son of a state lawmaker, died of a neck injury while riding the world’s tallest water slide in Kansas City, Kansas, police said on Monday.
Caleb Thomas Schwab died on Sunday at the Schlitterbahn waterpark on the Verrückt water slide, which sends riders plunging down 17 stories at up to 50 miles an hour (80 kph).
He was riding with two women on a raft, Kansas City, Kansas, police said in a statement.
After a report of an emergency, police and fire officials rushed to the scene and found the boy “dead from a fatal neck injury at the end of the ride, in the pool,” the statement said.
The two women on the raft suffered minor injuries to their faces and were hospitalized, the police statement said.
The ride is more than 168 feet (51.4 meters) high, making it taller than the Statue of Liberty from torch to the top of its pedestal. The ride’s name means “insane” in German.
Park officials said in a statement that Schlitterbahn Kansas City will remain closed at least until Wednesday, while the slide will be shut down during the course of the investigation.
Police and a park spokeswoman declined to give additional details on the child’s death, including whether the child met the ride’s height requirement of 54 inches (1.37 meters) or whether the three riders and the raft met the weight requirement.
Schwab was the son of Kansas State Representative Scott Schwab, who said in a statement the family was devastated.
The Verrückt water slide is the tallest in the world, according to Guinness World Records.
Kansas state Senator Pat Pettey said the tragedy occurred during the park’s “elected officials day” and that she was at the site.
She left the park before the incident that led to the boy’s death, Pettey said in a telephone interview, adding that relatives of hers who stayed behind at the park had seen blood on the slide.
Under Kansas law, the state Department of Labor has jurisdiction over amusement parks, which must inspect their rides every 12 months with state officials authorized to conduct random inspections.
The incident will likely lead to a discussion in the state legislature about how water parks are regulated, she added.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Bernard Orr)