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Recent fair ride injury, theme park death highlights oversight concerns




KANSAS CITY (Salvi Law) – A 10-year-old boy died Sunday on the world’s tallest water slide, the 168-foot-high Verrückt at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City.

Officials say the boy’s death is the first reported death at the Kansas amusement park. Witnesses to the horrific accident say they could hear booms coming from the area of the slide and then saw a body wash down the slide directly after the raft did.

According to a report from ABC7 Chicago, the boy died from a “fatal neck injury at the end of the ride.” Two women who were riding in the raft with the little boy at the time of the accident suffered minor facial injuries. They were not related to the boy.

Verrückt, which means “insane” in German, can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. It opened in 2014 after multiple delays due to failed safety tests.

While many people love the thrill of racing down a tall roller coaster or that belly flop feeling while going down a water slide, accidents at these parks are not unusual. And serious incidents that require a trip to the emergency room are far more likely to occur at water parks than at traditional theme parks, FOX News reports. 

Rides that are found at circuses, fairs, and traveling carnivals, can be inspected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, but theme parks with permanent rides – like roller coasters and water slides – are exempt from federal oversight. That is because theme parks with permanent rides negotiated a deal that requires them to disclose all ride-related injuries that require immediate hospital stays of at least 24 hours to avoid these routine inspections.

Now, experts say that this boy’s tragic death may finally encourage water parks and legislators to re-evaluate safety reporting.

On Monday night, three young girls were injured after the Ferris wheel they were on at the Greene County Fair in Tennessee plummeted to the ground. One of the baskets of the ride had overturned, causing the children to fall out of the ride about 35 to 45 feet, according to reports. One victim, who is just 6 years old, was left with a traumatic brain injury. Her two sisters are both in stable condition after the accident.

According to a report from the New York Post, the company that operates the Ferris wheel was fined in 2013 for violating safety laws in North Carolina after a ride lurched into motion as riders were exiting the ride, injuries four riders and a ride operator.

With our close proximity to so many theme parks in the Midwest like Indiana Beach, Six Flags Great America, Holiday World, and Cedar Point, it is important for thrill-seekers to educate themselves on the risks some rides pose to avoid falling victim to an accident on one of these permanent rides.

FOX News shares these safety tips with families who may be planning a trip to their local water park.

  • Do research on reported accidents at your local water park, but serious accidents usually make headlines
  • Prepare your children for the water. Water parks usually aren’t good options for family members who have limited or weak swimming ability.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear plenty of sunscreen and hats with a brim. Children under 48 inches, non-swimmers and weak swimmers should wear Coast Guard-approved life vests
  • Obey signs and ride warnings.
  • Listen to the lifeguard on duty.

Unfortunately, some accidents will occur even when you are well prepared and following the rules of the water or amusement park. If you or a loved one is injured at an amusement or theme park, you may find yourself facing mounting medical bills and expenses. The attorneys at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard focus exclusively on assisting personal injury victims and their families throughout our area.

A personal injury claim arises when you or a loved one is harmed due to the intentional, reckless or negligent wrongdoing of another person, company or government agency. Under Illinois law, you have the right to seek full and fair compensation for your losses. Contact us today to discuss your rights, your options and what you can expect when you work with our law firm.

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