The World’s Tallest Water Slide Was a Terrible, Tragic Idea
The Worlds Tallest Water Slide Was a Terrible Tragic Idea

Follow by Email
At nearly 169 feet tall, Verrückt was taller than Niagara Falls. Riders flew down the world's tallest water slide at 70 miles per hour, challenging the laws of physics. Then, on August 7, 2016, 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was decapitated on the ride. What went wrong to cause such a horrific tragedy? For more information, read this article: Click here to subscribe to The Atlantic on YouTube: "The Water Slide" was directed by Nathan Truesdell. It is part of The Atlantic Selects, an online showcase of short documentaries from independent creators, curated by The Atlantic.


Alicia Robinson : Shoutouts to the little Black boy who knew better! lol

viperstrike0 : "all the mathematicians were wrong" the is the most dangerous sentence ive ever heard.

pokemonmanic3595 : To quote Jurassic Park: “You were so busy thinking that “you could” that you never stopped to think if “you should.”

lostinthelookingglas : If you find yourself saying that all the experts are’re probably wrong

BMAH : 4:26 is the smartest person in the entire video.

Gary Henzler : "I want to be the first one in a bar to get a drink, I want to have the prettiest girl, I want to have the biggest record, the biggest everything." . . . . . YEEEEEAAAAAHHHHH, when a manchild like that is put in charge of something everyone is safe.

batt3ryac1d : They probably should have listened to the mathematicians scientists and engineers huh

mastrtonberry2 : Sounded like the guys who designed it were a bunch of drunk, low-IQ country boys with zero engineering background

sisipie : 3:24 "We asked a bunch of different experts and every one of them said we shouldn't do this, which isn't the answer we wanted to hear, so they're completely wrong."

kiltlvr : And this, folks, is why state and Federal regulations matter.

Oaf : 20 minutes of roller coaster tycoon would have told you this is a bad design

Syclone0044 : ✳️ THE FACTS ✳️ OK people, I just spent 2 hours reading the 47 page grand jury indictment documents start to finish, every single word, and read all the articles linked from The Atlantic's new video on this today (2019/08/16). There's a ton of BS in these comments, so let me save you all the effort it took me to find the truth: _(✳️SHORT SUMMARY ALSO AVAILABLE IN COMMENTS✳️ Look for these green symbols)_ 1. It was indeed a decapitation. The park themselves documented the injury that day as "decapitation" on the daily ride operation report. It's extremely unlikely they would've wrote that if it was merely some internal injury, bc how would they have even known then? Also notice the massive amount of blood on the slide, including the spot on the downward slope of the hump where it happened. There is only one possibility to explain that much instant blood loss while traveling at high speed and it certainly isn't an "internal decapitation". Finally, there are TWO distinct large pools of blood at the bottom stopping area of the slide, covered by TWO tarps. Only 1 person died on the ride, so.... 2. Sadly, what happened is Caleb flew up and his neck directly struck one of the metal "hoops" that supports the netting over the ride. The other 2 girls (in their 20s and 30s) also sustained substantial injury that warranted 2 additional charges of Felony Aggravated Battery. At 6:54 you can see the particular metal hoop very mangled in a downward direction, from the boy's impact. I have heard repeatedly (but not confirmed) that the girls were struck by the boy's head and/or body. Given that they didn't fly out of the raft, I can't see what else could've caused their injuries. 3. The ride, and many of the parks' other water rides, were built and designed by the 2 park owners Jeff Henry and John Schooley, both of whom had zero formal engineering background besides trial & error. An accelerometer consultant they hired had warned them before opening Verrücktt, that the physics characteristics of the ride made it inevitable that some rafts would go airborne and presented a very serious risk of physical injury, but the owners ignored him and other professionals, stating on video "everybody told us this wouldn't work, and they've been wrong every single time". The 2 owners and that specific park's Director of Operations (Tyler Miles) were all charged with Involuntary, and Negligent Manslaughter, along with Reckless Endangerment of a Child, etc. Both owners/designers Henry and Schooley were also charged with Second Degree Murder. 4. But in Spring 2019, a judge dismissed the charges because the jury had unfairly been shown exaggerated video where the 2 owner/designers were playing up the ride's danger for the Travel Channel "Xtreme Rides" series, because they wanted to make a dramatic impact to create advertising sensation while the ride was being constructed. They actually used hidden roller skates under one of the rafts to deliberately get footage of a raft flying off for that TV show, which are clearly visible beneath the raft being tested at 0:45. (But they did indeed also have problems with rafts flying off accidentally during construction, too.) It's just that the Travel Channel stuff was made to be as dramatic and scary as possible, as were the owners' statements on the show, thus showing this footage to the jury caused a highly unfair bias against the defendants/owners. That's why Henry stated "The real Jeff Henry wasn't the one who was charged with crimes. The actor Jeff Henry was." 5. There were 6 rafts in operation and 4 in reserve. The ride's operation reports show that "Raft B" had a record of consistently being faster than the other rafts, and going airborne. Unfortunately, that is the raft Caleb was riding on the day of his death. 6. The court documents includes a list of names and/or initials of about a dozen different people who suffered significant injuries on the ride during its ~2 year (~180 business days) operating history, like multiple broken toes due to the woefully inadequate Velcro restraints coming loose, concussions, 3 slipped discs, etc. One adult man struck the same overhead hooping Caleb later would, and the man's face became so swollen that it shut one of his eyes for the rest of the day. (Obviously he didn't strike the hoop with his neck, like Caleb did.) Investigators after Caleb's death found numerous signs of evidence indicating where previous riders had struck the catch-fencing. 7. Court documents refer to a video of the fatal incident serving as evidence supporting the grand jury's portrayal of what happened. However, that is the first and only place I have ever seen anyone mention there being a video of the incident, so I have to assume this video has never been leaked. 8. One of the articles I read, managed to directly interview John Henry, the primary man once proudly behind the ride's idea, design, etc. (It was to be his crowning achievement.) He was/is absolutely devastated by what happened, and whereas he used to be intimately involved with their several parks, he basically distanced himself almost totally for 4 years and became reclusive, and went into serious depression, agonizing over the boy's death. From his statements, I got a strong impression he was still struggling a lot with reconciling the fact that this wasn't purely an accident (because even though he obviously never intended for anyone to be injured, his ego, reckless ignorance, and gross negligence clearly were major contributing factors that created an unsafe ride from the day it opened.) 9. The amusement park industry is surprisingly loosely regulated, mostly up to each state to handle, and Verrûckt was specifically built in Kansas due to their ride regulations being among the most lax among the States. They are supposed to be built according to A.S.M.E. standards (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), yet the ride adhered to virtually none of the applicable standards. However, in Kansas, the law essentially states that the park is only required to ensure the ride is operated in accordance with the ride's Owner's Manual. Since they built the ride themselves, this effectively meant the park was responsible for policing themselves... 10. During construction, they first built a 1/12th size slide near company headquarters in Texas, to test the design. Later they built a 1/2 size slide as they got closer to construction of the full thing. In some of these videos, you are seeing these smaller test models, which explains why the area looks substantially different than the final slide's location. To their credit, Henry and Schooley always made a point to be the first people to ride their own slides, because they felt it was their responsibility to take the risk of the first ride. 11. In the court documents there is a black and white diagram of the entire ride, and it shows several "braking mats" placed in strategic locations throughout the ride. One of the braking mats near the bottom of the big drop as the slide begins going up the hump (thus reducing raft speeds as they head towards the crest of the hump) was reported by ride operators as failing and needing maintenance in 2016, the year of the fatal accident. The park Director of Operations (Miles) did not want to shut down their flagship ride, and disregarded these reports. Then, the braking mat failed completely, I believe it detached and was thus removed. This triggered an "urgent priority 1" maintenance flag, which park rules mandate for a ride to be shut down until this maintenance is completed. Yet, park Director Miles again chose to disregard this, and keep the ride open despite knowing one of the uphill braking mats had completely failed. He particularly did not want to shut down the ride as the date in August 2016 of the fatal accident was a day where elected local and state politicians were invited to ride free (including Caleb, who was the son of a Kansas politician). *_EDIT: Additions_* See my comment below for 12, 13, and 14 regarding the design's raft safe weight range and how that played a role in the accident.

Marcus Kessler : Vividly remember this ; didn't realize the slides designer was a petulant man child with no regard for safety however.

Sincerely Eccentric : I remember this episode. OMG! These idiots. The lil boy had the right idea "'s too scary"

Tatum Soto : Imagine being the other two women sitting on the ride with Caleb. Absolutely terrifying to think about.

Mr. & Mrs Smith : So basically in Kansas anyone can build anything, tell the state they tested it and its all good... and... that’s it? Being that this was a state legislator’s son who died I’d be surprised if there were no new regulations passed since.

Bella Løve : 5:59 You could see the Childs blood, this is extremely horrifying.

Pedro Eiras : This is the cost of arrogance. Too bad a little boy had to pay it with his life. Hope the family sue these idiots out of all their money!

Sanesh Francis : This was so eerie, omg so well done. It’s so disgusting how they were so lax with everything and how the park actually stayed open.

t Time : Was that blood all over the slide? Omfg... that poor boy, that's a horrendous way to die

hello lyda : Yeah we don't want something like a kid's head getting cut off ruin our family fun day. The fun must go on

VictoriaYost -Thyme and Tenderness : I mean you easily could have done “the tallest water slide” WITHOUT that second hill and just a long after slide into the pool. But noooooo. Gotta be so extra

Murtaza Bijani : “Mixed feelings... brought some flowers because it felt weird not doing anything...” yyyeeeeaaaa... don’t let a little boy’s decapitation get in the way of your vacation.

No Name : As a Engineer i can tell you what a big issue about this ride is. The vehicle weight is essential in this scenario because it changes friction and kinetic energy. Changes in weight result into different speeds. This could have been prevented by using a much heavier slide that outweighs the riders so the remaining delta mass doesnt change to much

Nikki Russell : God. That poor baby and his family. 😞

WhyYouTubeAllowsSuchLongNamesAndWhyAreYouReadingIt : Didn't they have some engineers design this slide? You shouldn't have to guess by dropping sand bags. This isn't the first slide ever made. It looks like the hump was too difficult for them to design. Too slow and riders get stuck between the first drop and the hump. Too fast and they fly off. I get the impression that they were more akin to Dads experimenting in the backyard instead of professionals.

jflow08 : Watching the opening video with them laughing at the "death" of every sandbag in the raft is chilling.

Hoefledorf : At that high, at that speed, a lot of things can go wrong. Have in mind that it will have skinny and young people and older and obese people and because of that there isn't consistency. Also the behavior of the riders will after the result of it. Even the temperature of the water, the flow of it and the wind will also affect the ride. It very irresponsible to design such a think and put people at risk that way hoping that everything goes well when there is a strong chance that it won't.

VotingInNH : You could see how the netting could be its own hazard... So sad...

Lava Hotpocket : "I want to be the first to do everything." Well, then, you can be the first of your buddies to rot in prison. This entire thing was a horrible idea right from the beginning.

NegatingSilence : Doesn't tell us what the design flaw was, doesn't say if the slide stayed up, if anyone was held responsible, if it was engineered in the first place... it's just a big montage of pre-existing footage.

Biz Prat : Verrückt can also mean messed up in German slang which is exactly what this slide is

Fernando Beckham : The only person with sense in this video was Black and around 8 years old.

Elizabeth Grant : Did they seriously “test” the -WATER- slide without...... water?????

Lyrici17 : So they were essentially trying to play IRL "Rollercoaster Tycoon" with people's lives. This was chilling.

TheRedKnight03 : Just imagine being really excited, hear a loud noise and see people covered in blood, it's crazy that this really happened...

fergalicious214 : I used to drive down 435 everyday from work and you could see the slide from the highway. It always left such an eerie feeling after what happened to that poor child.

Brooke McKinley : 😂 @4:28 😂 “it’s too scary!!” Damn! If only more people were as smart as this kid....

Bryan Steacy : This is a great way to tell this story. No kooky or overly dramatic music, no narration or infographics. Just the story told by those who were there using footage taken by the by those who had to report it and archival footage. Great job guys. Also, what a tragedy. I think its always a good idea to push boundaries and advance engineering with amusements and rides, but for gods sake if the maths doesn't check out don't just spin it a different way and proceed, go back to the drawing board! This was an avoidable death.

Dolmanator : "Then, on August 7, 2016, Verrückt came to a swift end when 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was decapitated on the ride. What went wrong?" You uh...want to maybe answer that question in this video? Seems kind of pointless to watch 9 minutes with no answers.

Ho Chimin : Testing protocol: 7:33 first person goes down is he/she alive testing passed

UrbanMasque : Who needs government regulations?! Thoughts and prayers should suffice

BalloonFrog : I live in the KCK area, just 20 minutes from this Schlitterbahn. I remember hearing about this and being absolutely horrified. It’s tragic enough that a child lost his life, but the manner in which he died is so shocking and gruesome. The water slide was dismantled last year, but the main tower still stands. You can see it from the highway. It’s a tragic reminder of ignorance.

silent ninja : They should keep the slide up as a monument representing stupidity, greed, and arrogance.

amber black : That black boy knew what was up!

Anjounet Leavell : I’m f——ing dying right now!!! Guy: Are you gonna go on the slide? Boy: *in the Most monotone voice imaginable * No... Guy: why not Boy: It’s too scary XD !

ocsrc : This is what the world is like when we get rid of all those pesky agencies and regulations.

Eric Alvaro : World: America: Here's the tallest water slide, in your face!!!

Lord Fluffykinz : Verrückt must be what German engineers called it.