A few weeks ago, 10-year-old Caleb Schwab died after riding on a water slide at Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Since then, several witnesses have recalled the tragedy, but now the boy’s father is breaking his silence.
Scott Schwab is expressing his sorrow after losing his son and hopes that the investigation will lead to finding a way in preventing future tragedies. Two of Schwab’s sons were riding the Verruckt water slide at the same time, but were placed on different rafts due to weight requirements. Caleb’s 12-year-old brother, Nate, cheated death when he went on a raft before he slid down. After successfully making it to the bottom, Nate witnessed his own brother die after the velcro straps holding him inside the raft came loose while going down the 168-feet slide at 65 mph. It caused him to hit his head on a metal support beam, decapitating him.
Caleb’s father, a Kansas state representative, released a statement to People on Wednesday.
“While we try to step forward into the new normal of life without Caleb in our presence, we find hope with the current investigation into the incident to provide answers and assurances that such tragedy will not strike again,” Schwab wrote. “Words will never convey the appreciation Michele, the boys, and I have for all those who expressed their love and support the last week and a half. ‘Thank You’ seems so inadequate to express our appreciation, but it is the only phrase we have. So, from the depths of our hearts, we thank you.”
Schwab and his wife have three surviving sons, according to the report.
Michael C. Rader, the attorney representing Caleb Schwab’s family, said his firm is independently investigating the tragedy and that Schlitterbahn is fully cooperating with them.
— People Magazine (@people) August 17, 2016
“I can say that my firm and I along with our team of experts are doing everything in our power to ensure that all questions surrounding the cause of this tragedy are fully answered,” he said.
As the case moves forward, the two women that were seated in the raft with Caleb have hired their own attorneys, KCTV News reports. Hannah Barnes and Matraca Baetz also issued their own statement through their lawyers.
The statement read in part, “Being mothers ourselves, we can only hope that Caleb’s family can find some comfort in knowing we are doing everything we know how to do to stop something so tragic from occurring again to any other family!”
— GodSend™ (@GodSendTM) August 11, 2016
One of Barnes and Baetz’s lawyers, Lynn Johnson, said they are working closely with attorneys representing the Schwabs. They want to see how the investigation shakes out before pursuing any kind of legal action on their end.
Attorney, John Parisi, is investigating the case from a different perspective. He wants to know what happened before Caleb hopped on one of the rafts on Verruckt.
After Caleb Schwab’s death, numbers of past Schlitterbahn park visitors have come forward with claims that straps failed on the water slide. Some families say that their rafts went airborne and they reported it.
— Jason Lamb (@jasonlambkc) August 10, 2016
Some of these accounts will help attorneys in their case. Another rider on Verruckt, Paul Oberhauser, also witnessed what happened to Caleb. He alleges that the shoulder strap released from the child.
“As soon as I hit the bottom on the first curve, the shoulder strap just kind of busted loose,” said Oberhauser.
In the meantime, physics and engineering experts have been analyzing how the tragedy occurred. According to Kansas City Star, they’ve questioned the concept of placing lighter-weight passengers at the front of the raft and heavier passengers toward the back. One of the experts noted that too much weight at the back of the raft could push the front of the boat upward and that may have been a contributing factor in Caleb Schwab’s death. This may have caused the raft to “catapult upwards,” which is “not good.”
[Photo by AP Photo/Charlie Riedel]