Kansas park reopens after boy's water slide death

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Kansas City police said a 10-year-old boy who was killed at a water park Sunday died as the result of a fatal neck injury. The park is scheduled to re-open on Wednesday. (Aug. 9) AP

This July 26, 2016 photo, provided by Erin Oberhauser, shows her husband, Paul Oberhauser, in the back of the raft after riding the "Verruckt" raft ride at the Schlitterbahn WaterPark in Kansas City, Kan.(Photo: Erin Oberhauser, AP)

Schlitterbahn Waterpark reopened Wednesday as the investigation continued into the death of a<span style="color: Red;">*</span>10-year-old boy who was decapitated<span style="color: Red;">*</span>on the Kansas park's<span style="color: Red;">*</span>signature water slide.
Schlitterbahn had been closed since Caleb Schwab died Sunday while riding on the "Verrückt," billed as the world's tallest water slide. The slide will remain closed for the season, officials at the park in Kansas City said.
Police said Caleb died of a neck injury.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>The Associated Press, citing a source familiar with the investigation who requested anonymity, reported Wednesday that Caleb was decapitated.
The slide starts from a point 168 feet off the ground. Rafts carrying two to three<span style="color: Red;">*</span>people race at speeds up to 65 mph down the ramp, roaring back up a<span style="color: Red;">*</span>hill before descending<span style="color: Red;">*</span>50 feet into a pool. Elapsed time from start to finish: less than 20 seconds.
Jun Zhuang, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at the<span style="color: Red;">*</span>University at Buffalo, told USA TODAY it is virtually impossible to test a slide<span style="color: Red;">*</span>for safety given all the<span style="color: Red;">*</span>possible combinations of raft riders, weight distribution,<span style="color: Red;">*</span>weather and wind conditions.
"The newly designed tallest, fastest, steepest water slides ...<span style="color: Red;">*</span>attain higher and higher speeds and become more and more dangerous," Zhuang said.
Kansas water park closed after boy dies on 'insane' slide

The design process starts with many assumptions, including how<span style="color: Red;">*</span>securely people are restrained, and in the<span style="color: Red;">*</span>end a rider is a "lab mouse" because conditions vary so widely, he said.
Paul Oberhauser, of Omaha, told KCTV5<span style="color: Red;">*</span>he was on the slide with his son and a friend July 26 when his<span style="color: Red;">*</span>shoulder strap broke loose at the bottom of the first hill. He said he grabbed a handle on the raft and hung on for the rest of the ride. His wife, Erin, caught the ride on video.
The couple reached out to Schlitterbahn with their concerns, but did not hear back.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>The park did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident.
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Less than two weeks later, the Oberhausers<span style="color: Red;">*</span>heard the tragic news about Caleb Schwab.
"It was just surreal to know we were just there, just on it. I have pictures still on my phone," Erin Oberhauser<span style="color: Red;">*</span>said. "We got to be lucky and (our son) got to go home with us unlike the Schwabs' (son). Our prayers are with them and our hearts break for them."
Even if slides are designed carefully and<span style="color: Red;">*</span>maintained and inspected regularly, no big water slide is<span style="color: Red;">*</span>100% safe, Zhuang said.
"Because of the incredibly large accelerations, similar effects as whiplash in auto accidents can occur," Zhuang said. "There needs to be extensive testing to understand and mitigate these large accelerations, and standards must be updated."

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