Charges Filed Over Water Park Death

When a day at the amusement park ends in injury or tragedy, who is responsible? Does the blame fall on the theme park owners or ride designer? Or does the park-goer assume responsibility for their own injuries? Recent developments in the case of a 2016 water park fatality attempt to answer these questions.

Charges Filed Over Water Park Fatality

The incident happened in August of 2016 at Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts in Kansas City, Kansas. The 10-year-old victim was on a waterslide called “Verruckt,” billed as the tallest waterslide in the world as of 2016, when his raft went airborne during the ride. He was decapitated after the raft collided with a pole. Two other passengers on the raft were also severely injured. This horrific tragedy made national news, and left many people wondering if their favorite theme park ride had deadly potential.

This week, charges were filed against the slide’s architect and two other Schlitterbahn officials. The designer faces charges of second degree murder, aggravated battery, and aggravated endangering of a child. The company’s co-owner, who also worked on the fatal ride’s design, faces similar charges.

While no one involved likely set out to purposefully kill a child, the charges allege that their behavior contributed to the boy’s death. In one example of negligent conduct, the co-owner who worked on the ride’s design had no engineering experience and is a high school dropout, rendering him incapable of safely designing a ride. Additionally, the charges allege that there was evidence of dangers prior to the accident, including other rafts that had gone airborne during the ride. If they were aware of these dangers, the park officials were negligent by allowing people to continue riding the waterslide without addressing the issues.

Theme parks are full of excitement and thrills. But even so, theme park owners and operators have a duty to keep their patrons safe. This includes making sure all rides and attractions are up to safety standards and immediately addressing safety concerns, two things that Schiltterbahn officials apparently neglected to do.

Staying Safe While Having Fun

In the case of the 2016 fatality in Kansas, the fault lies with the park officials and ride’s designers. However, there are many things that theme park visitors can do to take safety into their own hands. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Obey any age, height, weight, and health restrictions on rides
  • Follow any posted safety rules and listen to instructions provided by ride operators
  • Keep hands, arms, legs and feet inside the ride at all times
  • Secure all loose articles, like cell phones, wallets, or sunglasses
  • Stay in your seat until the ride comes to a complete stop
  • Use any provided safety equipment
  • Report any unsafe behavior or conditions

Thankfully, the chances of being injured at a theme park are about 1 in 16 million, and most operators and owners work their hardest to ensure safety and prevent injuries. But as this tragic case out of Kansas shows, accidents cause by negligence can strike at any time—this is why it’s so important to know your legal rights as a theme park visitor.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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