Heading to an amusement park is a fun way to spend the day. Exciting rides, entertaining shows, and delicious foods are just some of the reasons that so many people flock to such attractions as Disneyland, Six Flags, and Universal Studios. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) estimates that there are 300 million visitors to the nation's nearly 400 amusement parks every year. While most of the people who pass through the gates of these parks leave unharmed,with sore feet and expensive souvenirs, there are the unlucky few who suffer significant injury or death during their visit.
The dangers that amusement parks can hold has recently been highlighted by the death of a 10-year old boy in Kansas City. Caleb Schwab was visiting the Schlitterbahn Water Park with his family this past weekend. He decided to go down the Verruckt, the world's tallest water slide. According to the Schlitterbahn website, the Verruckt is described as follows:
- "Adventure seekers will be able to share this experience as they strap into a 3 person raft that will slide down a jaw-dropping 168 foot 7 inch structure, only to be blasted back up a second massive hill and then sent down yet another gut-wrenching 50 foot drop for the ultimate in water slide thrills!"
The combined weight of the riders has to be between 400 and 550 pounds. In addition, riders must be at least 54 inches tall in order to be able to ride on the Verruckt. The ride has been described by its creator as "safe dangerous." Caleb and two other passengers were strapped into the raft that riders ride in. On the way down, something went terribly wrong. The Washington Post reported that witnesses saw the raft fly into the air and hit the safety netting. Though it is not completely clear how exactly the accident occurred, first reports stated that Caleb, whose body was found at "the bottom of the ride in a pool," died from a fatal neck injury. Tragically, the reports later changed. As it turns out, young Caleb had been decapitated on the Verruckt. There were two other women in his raft as well, however, they suffered only minor injuries.
His death has called into question the safety and oversight of amusement park rides. According to Time, "[t]here is no single federal agency responsible for enforcing rules and regulations at Schlitterbahn." The park is instead overseen by the Kansas Department of Labor. Other agencies oversee other parks, for example, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission oversees "traveling amusement parks, like pop-up carnivals." USA Today reports that "[f]ixed-site facilities [such as Disneyland] are overseen by state and local agencies."
Whether a more comprehensive regulation system will be implemented after this tragic accident remains to be seen.
If you or a loved one has been injured while visiting an amusement park please do not hesitate to contact the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal. Jeremy has been representing personal injury clients in Colorado for many years. Let his extensive knowledge and experience work for you. Contact his office today.