KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 10-year-old boy died Sunday on a Kansas water slide that is billed as the world’s largest, according to officials.
Kansas City, Kansas, police spokesman Officer Cameron Morgan said the boy died at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark, which is located about 15 miles west of downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
KCUR is reporting the child is the son of Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe. The public radio station is reporting elected officials were at the park for Elected Officials Day. Reports say Speaker Ray Merrick’s office sent a statement to lawmakers this afternoon.
Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said the child died on one of the park’s main attractions, Verruckt, a 168-foot-tall water slide that has 264 stairs leading to the top.
Morgan said he did not have any details about how the child died or his identity, and Prosapio declined comment beyond a prepared statement.
The park is closed Sunday and Monday, and the ride is closed pending an investigation, she said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” Prosapio said in the statement.
Verruckt, which means “insane” in German, was certified as the world’s tallest water slide by Guinness World Records. Verruckt riders go down the slide in multi-person rafts and have to be at last 54 inches tall, according to the park’s website.
The park’s 2014 opening was delayed a few times, though the operators did not provide reasons for the delays. Two media sneak preview days in 2014 were canceled because of problems with a conveyor system that hauls 100-pound rafts to the top of the slide.
Prosapio said in 2014 that park officials would not hesitate to delay operation again for however long it takes to make sure the slide is safe.
In a news article linked to the news release announcing a 2014 delay, Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry told USA Today that he and senior designer John Schooley had based their calculations when designing the slide on roller coasters, but that didn’t translate well to a water slide like Verruckt.
In early tests, rafts carrying sandbags flew off the slide, prompting engineers to tear down half of the ride and reconfigure some angles at a cost of $1 million, Henry said.
A promotional video for a show about building the slide includes footage of two men riding a raft down a half-size test model and going slightly airborne as it crests the top of the first big hill.
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