Kansas amusement ride regulations questioned after boy dies on water slide

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The death of Caleb Schwab, 10, on the Verruckt Waterslide at Schlitterbahn Sunday afternoon has raised a number of safety concerns.

Schlitterbahn released a statement on Monday. It reads in part:

“Safety is our top priority at Schlitterbahn. All rides are inspected daily before opening.”

KSN wanted to know how amusement park rides like the Verruckt are regulated.

The Kansas Department of Labor has the responsibility to provide an inspection check list for all amusement park rides, at permanent or temporary locations. The daily checklist includes things like checking passenger restraints, barricades, electrical equipment and so on.

However, state statute does not say whether or not the checklist must be completed each day. Instead, state statute says an amusement ride erected at a permanent location in Kansas shall be self-inspected by a qualified inspector at least every 12 months. A qualified inspector is described as a person who holds a current certification or other evidence of qualification to inspect amusement rides, issued by a program specified by rules and regulations adopted under K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 44-1602, and amendments thereto.

KSN looked into how Kansas amusement ride regulations stack up against other state’s amusement ride regulations.

Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia have the strictest regulations with mandatory inspections every six months, according to Sharing Information for Safer Amusement Ride Thrills (Saferparks).

According to Saferparks, state officials inspect rides annually in Nebraska. It says rides are inspected every year by a third party in Missouri and Colorado.

The Kansas Department of Labor released a statement on Monday about the incident.

“The Kansas Department of Labor and Secretary Lana Gordon would like to express their deepest sympathies to the Schwab Family during this incredibly difficult time. KDOL is reviewing the matter and will exercise appropriate authority under relevant Kansas statute and administrative regulations, as they pertain to public safety.”

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