Authorities in the US state of Kansas on Monday were investigating the death of a 10-year-old boy on what is billed as the world’s tallest water slide.
Caleb Schwab, the son of a Kansas state legislator, was killed Sunday on the Verruckt, a towering water slide at Kansas City’s Schlitterbahn Water Park.
Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio told a news conference that it was the first such incident at the park.
“This is not something we’ve experienced,” she said, adding that the park and the ride were closed pending the investigation.
The park gave no details on what happened to the boy, but said grief counselors were being made available to employees and guests.
“We are deeply and intensely saddened for the Schwab family and all who were impacted by the tragic accident,” a park statement said.
A message posted on Kansas City Police Chief Terry Zeigler’s Twitter account said the boy’s cause of death was a “fatal neck injury,” and that no further details would be released pending an investigation.
A GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for funeral expenses had generated more than $22,000 in donations on Monday.
The Schwab family expressed their sorrow and offered thanks for the support they have received from the Kansas City community.
“Since the day he was born, he brought abundant joy to our family and all those who he came into contact with,” a family statement said.
“As we try to mend our home with him no longer with us, we are comforted knowing he believed in his Savior, Jesus, and they are forever together now. We will see him another day.”
A park website description of the water slide says two to three people are typically strapped to a raft and then sent down a “jaw-dropping” 168-foot, 7-inch (51.4 meter) slide.
They are then “blasted back up a second massive hill and then sent down yet another gut wrenching 50-foot drop for the ultimate in water slide thrills.”
Riders are supposed to be at least 54 inches tall (1.37 meters).
The Kansas City Star said the park was teeming with children of legislators and their parents enjoying free passes when the accident occurred.
The Verruckt, which means “insane” in German, opened in July 2014, after delays of more than a month due to technical problems.
Kansas City TV station KCTV reported that the park told the station at the time that the ride was “not behaving properly,” after which netting was added around the slide.
The park is “tentatively” scheduled to reopen Wednesday, but the water slide ride will remain closed, report AFP.