A 10-year-old boy, Caleb Schwab, was decapitated while riding on the "world's tallest waterslide" at the Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City on Sunday afternoon, and authorities are investigating what exactly lead to the boy's death. The water park has been closed since the tragedy occurred as further details are being collected.
Schwab was the son of Kansas state Representative Scott Schwab. A spokesperson for the family, Pastor Clint Sprague, told ABC 7 that the family is heartbroken to have lost Caleb, who Sprague said loved sports, his parents, Jesus, and giving hugs.
The Kansas City Police Department published a statement on Monday, stating that Schwab was one of three passengers who had been riding the 168-foot-tall predisposed Verruckt waterslide when he sustained fatal "neck injuries" on Sunday afternoon. The two other passengers, adult women who are not related to Schwab, sustained only minor facial injuries. Schwab was found dead in the pool at the bottom of the slide.
Police are investigating the incident as a civil rather than criminal matter.
Schlitterbahn Kansas City released a statement on Monday, expressing sadness over Schwab's death, and asserting a commitment to safety in their park:
We are deeply and intensely saddened for the Schwab Family and all who were impacted by the tragic accident on the Verrückt water slide at Schlitterbahn Kansas City on Sunday afternoon.
The family and each and every one of those affected are foremost on our minds and in our hearts today. We ask the community to please keep all of those impacted in your thoughts and prayers.
The primary investigation is being conducted by the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department. All questions regarding the investigation should be directed to law enforcement.
Grief counselors are being provided at Schlitterbahn Kansas City for employees and guests. Anyone impacted can contact us at 913-312-3091 to schedule a visit with a grief counselor.
Safety is our top priority at Schlitterbahn. All rides are inspected daily before opening.
For more information about Verrückt, please visit the Fact Sheet on our website.
Schlitterbahn is tentatively scheduled to reopen on Wednesday. Verrückt is closed. Please visit our website for the latest information.
An eyewitness to the incident, Kelsey Friedrichsen, told PEOPLE that she and her boyfriend were heading up to ride the slide when they noticed commotion below and saw Schwab's body. Friedrichsen said,
It looked like he must have somehow been ejected from his seat, bounced around between the netting and the slide and just slid down. He would have fallen down without the raft. It's kind of like a tube.
Another witness, Esteban Castaneda, told ABC 7 that when the raft Schwab had been riding in reached the bottom of the slide, lifeguards were attempting to push crowds back, but Castaneda noticed someone in the water who looked to be decapitated. Castaneda also said that he had ridden Verruckt earlier in the day with his younger cousin, who said her Velcro seatbelt began to come undone toward the end of the slide.
Schlitterbahn Kansas City did not immediately reply to Complex's request for comment.