Gross negligence was behind Verrückt water slide fatality

Ohio residents may have heard that the Verrückt water slide was the tallest water slide in the world, opening in 2014 at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City. The nearly vertical water slide was 169 feet tall, and park attendees would raft down it at speeds of up to 70 mph. However, this water slide was the site of a fatal accident in 2016: A 10-year-old boy went airborne on the slide and was decapitated by a metal pole supporting a safety net.

An investigation has shown that the park's co-owner and the slide's senior designer were to blame. In 2012, the two had agreed to fast-track the construction of the slide so that it could appear on a reality TV show that featured amusement parks. The two were also aiming for a Guinness World Record. Despite their lack of a mechanical engineering background, they were able to deem the ride safe without any opposition.

That last step was only made possible, though, by Kansas law, which does not require a state agency to inspect water parks. The investigation made it clear that the two men had skipped crucial steps in the design process and used a crude trial-and-error method to test the slide's safety. For example, they sent sandbags down the slide to see if they would go airborne.

When a clear case of property owner negligence is behind an entrant's injury or death, there may be good grounds for a premises liability claim. This is, of course, separate from any criminal charges that the owner might face. For instance, the two parties responsible for the Verrückt waterslide fatality were indicted for involuntary manslaughter and other charges, but a judge later dismissed the charges. Those who wish to file a premises liability claim may hire a lawyer in the effort to recover damages.

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