Boy Dies on Verrückt at Schlitterbahn Kansas City

Monday, August 8, 2016 10:44 PM

An ABC station interviewed an eyewitness who claims that it was a decapitation and that lifeguards knew right away that the boy wasn't able to be saved.

Last edited by PhantomTails, Monday, August 8, 2016 10:49 PM
Monday, August 8, 2016 10:53 PM

^I had just read that article before you posted it. It noted the first seat appeared to be vacated, which makes the most sense considering the injuries of the other women. Also confirms the body was clear of the raft at the end. Also interesting that problems with restraints for other riders earlier in the day came up yet again. I don't know how important the restraints actually are on this ride, but it is being mentioned a lot.

Monday, August 8, 2016 10:56 PM

It may be all speculation but with the right speed and trajectory decapitation isn't an overly dramatic possibility. My husband is a paramedic and the number of accidents that involve people ending up in more than one piece is probably much higher than the general public realizes. When it doesn't happen in front of a large crowd only the first responders, medical personnel and family find out. There are so many places around our county where he can still remember exactly where he picked up what part to put it in the body bag from an accident it makes a nice Sunday drive not so relaxing. Our bodies are a lot more fragile than we realize.

Monday, August 8, 2016 10:57 PM
Nicole Wood's avatar

I was wondering about all the decapitation talk. From the witnesses, it didn't sound like much life saving attempts were performed at the scene so I figured it must have immediately been bad.
And in terms of the restraints, for all the people saying the velcro wasn't working on the raft earlier, how could they know for certain? Isn't there more than one raft for this ride?

Monday, August 8, 2016 11:15 PM

This might be a question for a person with a physics background, but would it be possible for someone to be ejected vertically from a raft that isn't attached to a track? In other words, if the boat stays in contact with the trough through the apex of the second hill, the passengers wouldn't experience upward forces away from the raft, would they? My gut tells me that the riders' bodies would tend to follow the path of the boat but I don't have any evidence to back that up.

The reason I ask goes back to the issue of the seat belts. The POVs I've seen show the boat cresting the hill fairly slowly, so I'd be surprised to hear that someone was ejected should the ride be operating normally, even if the restraints had failed. If that's the case, then either the boy managed to stand up while the ride was in motion, or something failed that would cause the entire boat to go airborne, in which case no restraint could've helped the situation. They've added various materials to the first drop to slow the boats down (looks like strips of rubber on the bottom, and at one point there were devices on either side as well)... makes me wonder if they somehow failed, such as a hydroplane situation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 12:06 AM

Water slides in general have always seemed to me inherently more dangerous than their dry ride counterparts. Coasters and flats have all become so carefully engineered over the years, it's often very difficult to find a way to hurt oneself while riding one. Not to say that it can't be done, but it often takes creativity and a lot of determination. With water slides, the rider is very much the controlling agent of his own safety. All it takes is one shift in body position, sticking an arm out or trying to sit up, in mid-course to give one's self a very bad day. Many's the time I've been on a water slide and thought to myself, I bet I could break my neck fairly easily here if I had the inclination.

Last edited by Ensign Smith, Tuesday, August 9, 2016 12:07 AM

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016 12:23 AM
cmingdayton's avatar

Is it my understanding that Verruckt is using a rollercoaster model restraint for a waterslide? Whether yes or no, dry and wet do not mix well.

Cole Mingo

(AKA Barry Allen and Niles Crane amalgamated).

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 6:53 AM
Rick_UK's avatar

cmingdayton said:

Is it my understanding that Verruckt is using a rollercoaster model restraint for a waterslide? Whether yes or no, dry and wet do not mix well.

I thought it was more like a car seatbelt, using velcro rather than a buckle?

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 7:59 AM

I'll say what hasn't been said yet. With an accident this gruesome I think the park may have to seriously considering tearing down the ride. If they do not, at the VERY least they are going to have to make some major modifications which, in my opinion, would keep the ride closed the rest of the summer.

If the accident went down the way we are all fearing, then I suspect the two other injured riders are going to need psychological help the rest of their lives.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 8:03 AM

PhantomTails said:

This might be a question for a person with a physics background, but would it be possible for someone to be ejected vertically from a raft that isn't attached to a track? In other words, if the boat stays in contact with the trough through the apex of the second hill, the passengers wouldn't experience upward forces away from the raft, would they? My gut tells me that the riders' bodies would tend to follow the path of the boat but I don't have any evidence to back that up.

I would agree with you. The riders should follow the same trajectory of the boat unless one of them pushed off, stood up, etc… In which their trajectory would change from the boats. Acceleration due to gravity is a constant, while things like air resistance are variables that cause the difference between the maximum speed of an object would reach in freefall (rock vs. feather experiment).

The only thing that makes sense to me right now is… While cresting that second hill, the boat was perhaps just barely “connected” to the slide channel via too much speed and/or perhaps a large gust of wind that caught the boat just right and lifted the front of the boat like a sail. Since the lightest weight was up front, his position on the raft would have raised up until he made contact with the netting. Since the two heavier riders were in the back, maintained a lower position relative to the slide channel itself. When the boy contacted the net, his body deaccelerated quickly, in which the riders with him on the raft would have likely passed him causing their injuries by contact with his body.

Makes me wonder in this case, with how I am thinking of it at least, that it is possible if the netting was NOT there the boy would still be alive. Or if there was a better “enclosure” system in place, such as smooth plexiglass or something instead of the netting with the structural U-bars every 8ft or so, which I am guessing did most of the “damage”. Just my theory though.

In my own personal experience on tandem slides with longer rafts, there has been a few times that we had picked up so much speed that near the end of the slide, if there was a sudden dip, that my girlfriend riding in front would raise up while I stayed planted to the slide in the same raft. The raft itself is the reason for this though, as again it’s acting like a sail with the air around it. You need a larger sail surface for more weight (me) than you would for her (much lighter in weight). Much like a little parachute working fine with something like an egg, but put a brick on it and it’s going to fall a lot quicker as it would require a bigger parachute to slow it down.

Last edited by SteveWoA, Tuesday, August 9, 2016 8:04 AM
Tuesday, August 9, 2016 10:30 AM

Actually, it would have to do with center of gravity. If the boy's center of gravity was high on his body, and the boat had a low center of gravity, the boat would stay on the slide, and the boy could be ejected, which is one reason why SteveWoA's girlfriend would catch air, but he wouldn't. It's very possible the boy simply got ejected when the ride caught too much speed up the second hill (possibly from the hydroplane like thing said above), and the boat and heavier women stayed down, but the boy went straight up.

Hey, let's ride (random Intamin coaster). What? It's broken down? I totally didn't expect that.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 10:58 AM

I took a look at the photo of the netting before they removed it and I wonder if the boy hit one of the supports holding up the netting. There was definitely blood on the track, especially at the bottom.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 11:03 AM

Regardless of what happened, it is an unsafe ride that should have never been built. This is major roller coaster heights, without being secured to a track or having a locked restraint. Like said above, just because it can be built, doesn't mean it should be built. It really doesn't matter what happened, this attraction should never open again and should be destroyed after the investigation. I think the park will have a hard time surviving after this. People go to a place like this to get away from reality and have good thoughts in their mind. This gruesome accident will be forever looming over this park.

The trend with coasters now seems to be with smaller, more re-rideable rides that will have less maintenance issues and a better return on investment (Mystic Timbers, InvadR, etc). Bigger is not better.

The quest for bigger, faster, more extreme has lead to this. This is absolutely the most horrific thing to have happened at any park. To think of the agony of all involved is heartbreaking.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 12:47 PM

Here's a debate- at what point does a slide stop being just a slide?

So a hapless water park, in the quest to provide a record-breaking experience, decides they want the world's tallest slide. Ok fine. To increase the thrills they throw an airtime hill into the design. Then they find out the second hill is too much so they brake the descent heavily. Oh, and rafts must be designed with rigid seats and 3 point seat belts. Then each sled must conform to a certain weight range so the raft is neither too fast nor too slow. And all this because they need to keep the experience as water slide-ish as possible and not coaster-ish. After all, they're a water park and people have already been on more thrilling and taller coasters, right? This ride is clearly a failure as a ride of any kind and (in hindsight) the product of bad ideas and even worse remedies.

One of the reasons I'm glad I don't run a park is because I'd be constantly sick with worry over the possibility of an accident, or worse yet, a death. Schlitterbahn is held in high regard throughout the industry, but they will indeed have a long road out of this situation that couldn't be any worse, from the circumstances down to who the victim was. (Not that that should make any difference, but... it will)

I'd bet the dollar I don't have that the ride will never operate again and the notion that water slides can and should be extreme thrill rides will be gone.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 1:18 PM

Let's not understate the value of what NBGS does with water park attraction design. They are perfectly qualified to design attractions such as this. Schlitterbahn is, arguably, the biggest name in water park design and operation. Other parks have experienced accidents on rides, some due to park/manufacturer liability, and some that have caused deaths. This won't be the end to Schlitterbahn or to NBGS. It may be the end to Verruckt and any other ride like it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 1:54 PM

I would be surprised if this ride reopens after this incident. I don't know how you make it safe. This tragedy seems to provide ample evidence that the netting mechanism is both necessary and unsafe, and I don't know what you would replace it with that would solve the problems. And I suspect that Velcro may not be a suitable restraint at these speeds/forces. Other, more secure restraints may not be practicable on a water ride. And while all of this is admittedly somewhat speculative, I have seen much lesser incidents spell the end of a 7-figure attraction. I forgot the name of that short-lived upcharge attraction at Cedar Point that was never resurrected after an off-season "vortex-shedding" incident.

I must very respectfully disagree with RideMan on one point. I think there is a public interest in disclosing the decapitation if that is indeed what happened.

If I had not realized the "neck injury" was allegedly a decapitation, I am certain I would not have fully comprehended and contemplated the potential for serious injury on a ride like this. That additional detail makes a huge difference in my understanding of what risks I am assuming by riding, and my calculus as to whether I would ever ride such an attraction. Now, I expect I will be extra vigilant when riding the tame water coaster at Typhoon Lagoon.

That said, I certainly understand why it might be in the interest of the family to keep the details private.

Sad situation all around.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 1:57 PM

Water parks are, literally, an accident waiting to happen. It's a real activity, that evolved from the plain ole swimming pool, in which the participant is more actively involved in the experience, unlike the relative passivity of a coaster. So maybe low, short, and sweet should be the order of the day for slides. Once again, when the two worlds collide there's better potential for trouble.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 2:00 PM

My understanding is that NBGS was sold to Whitewater West and hasn't been making slides for other parks for a while. Massiv, the new water coaster in Galveston, is credited to Whitewater.

With that said, I'd disagree with the statement that the Schlitterbahn staff are "perfectly qualified" to build big slides. The design problems and this accident prove that they failed to predict and account for the dynamics and variability of water slides. They themselves were quoted as saying that they modeled the slide after a roller coaster even though slides are a completely different animal. If I was a park I'd want nothing to do with Schlitterbahn's designers after this disaster.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 2:08 PM

Unfortunately, police confirmed the decapitation to TIME today:

Here is an interesting article about an alleged previous restraint failure, with a photo:

The common complaint with the restraint failures is that it happens at the bottom of the first drop. I am in no way concluding this contributed to this accident, though.

Last edited by ILRider, Tuesday, August 9, 2016 2:30 PM
Tuesday, August 9, 2016 2:52 PM

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if a restraint failure at the bottom of the first drop proved to be the cause. When I first saw the helicopter video of the bloody netting on the second hill, it seemed that it was on the downhill portion. But, after closer examination, it became conclusively apparent that it was on the uphill portion of the second hill, maybe half to two thirds of the way up. Probably right about the time where the G's transition from positive to negative.


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