US court case highlights importance of safety standards

8 May 2017

The death of a 10 year old boy at an amusement park in the United States has highlighted the need for greater regulation of amusement park rides in that nation, and also emphasised the importance of ensuring existing regulations related to these rides are strictly adhered to across the world.Image of Caleb Schwab

The family of Caleb Schwab, who died on a giant waterslide at a Kansas water park in August last year, will receive nearly $AUD27 million in settlement payments, according to court documents. Caleb died on the Verruckt ride at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, when he suffered a fatal neck injury after apparently being ejected from the raft he was travelling in.

The “Verruckt” waterslide, meaning "insane" in German, was dubbed the tallest in the world, and featured multi-person rafts that made a 17-storey drop at speeds of up to 113km/h, followed by a surge up a hump and a 15-metre descent to a finishing pool. It has been closed since the fatal accident and will likely now be dismantled.

At the time of Caleb’s death, Kansas was known for its light regulation of amusement park rides, and US politicians are now working to improve legislation of such rides. 

The case is a reminder to all amusement park and aquatic centre managers about the importance of ensuring the safety of water slides and amusement rides at their facilities, and the tragic consequences that can result from a failure to do so.