Caleb Schwab, 10-Y-O Son of Christian Kansas City Lawmaker, Killed at Schlitterbahn Water Park
A fun-filled outing ended in horror for the Christian family of Republican Kansas state Rep. Scott Schwab when his 10-year-old son, Caleb, died on a water slide said to be the world's tallest and named after the German word Verrückt, which means "insane" or "crazy" on Sunday.
The Kansas City Star explained that Schwab was at the Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City with his family because it was a day when lawmakers and their families get free admission and lunch at the park.
According to the water park's website, the Verrückt is the tallest water slide in the world.
"Adventure seekers will be able to share this experience as they strap into a three person raft that will slide down a jaw dropping 168 foot 7 inch structure, only to be 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!" explains the operators of the slide.
At about mid-afternoon, however, the thrill Caleb was seeking on the Verrückt became heartache for the Schwabs after he died in an accident on the 17 stories tall slide.
"We are saddened to share that a young boy died on Verrückt this afternoon. Given that safety is our first priority, we have closed the Kansas City park today and Monday, and have closed the ride pending a full investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time," said a statement from Schlitterbahn Kansas City on Sunday.
Kansas City police were called to the park about 3:20 p.m., according to local news station KMBC.
Leslie Castaneda, who was at the park on Sunday, told KMBC that Caleb's brother watched as the accident happened.
"The little boy said to a worker, 'I just saw my little brother die because of one of your attractions,'" Castaneda said. "(The boy) looked skinny. He shouldn't have been on that ride."
Castaneda added that Caleb's brother then left to find his mother who was on another ride after making the comment. She said she noticed that one of the other riders had a bloody eye, and that the park didn't close immediately.
"The thing that got me was there was no responders. They didn't make any announcement," Castaneda explained. "We left 15 to 20 minutes after it happened."
As condolences poured in for the lawmaker and his family they issued a statement through their pastor asking for privacy.
"Michele and I want to thank the Olathe and Kansas City, KS communities and all our friends and family for their outpouring of support and compassion as it relates to the sudden loss of our son, Caleb Thomas Schwab," the statement began.
"Since the day he was born, he brought abundant joy to our family and all those who he came in contact with. As we try and 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.
"Your continued prayers are welcome and appreciated. We appreciate your understanding of our family's need for privacy during this difficult time of grieving," it ended.
Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick of Stilwell also asked for prayers and comfort for the family of his colleague Sunday night.
"Representative Schwab is a long-serving legislator whose family is the center of his world," Merrick told the Kansas City Star.
He remembered Caleb as "a real good little athlete," and "an all-around good kid."
Clint Sprague, lead pastor of LifeMission Church who has known Caleb's parents since they were in college, told the Kansas City Star: "They are an amazing, resilient family, full of faith. … They are just grieving their loss right now."