Verruckt was the world’s tallest waterslide, measuring in at 169 feet tall. Riders strapped into a boat and then plummeted down a nearly vertical 17-story chute. The ride is taller than Niagara Falls, and riders could reach speeds of 70 miles per hour. Part of the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas, Verruckt—German for “insane”—was a huge draw for people, at least until tragedy struck.
On August 7, 2016, Caleb Schwab was riding Verruckt when he went airborne, striking a metal pole that supported the safety net. Schwab was decapitated. Nathan Truesdell put together a film about the slide and the tragedy. “My first thought was that it must have been a freak accident—what a horrible, horrible story,” Truesdell says. “But once I took a closer look, I started to realise how complicated this story really was, and how this could have happened to anyone who went down that slide.”
The truth behind the slide is one of gross neglect and disregard for human life.
Jeff Henry, Schlitterbahn co-owner, conceived the idea for Verruckt in 2012 with the help of John Schooley—neither have a background in mechanical engineering. The pair fast-tracked construction so that the ride could appear on a reality TV show. Making the ride even more dangerous, according to Kansas law, no credentialed experts need to inspect the ride to deem it safe.
Ironic that Schwab’s father was a Kansas state representative and the family was at the park for Elected Official Day.
Truesdell’s video shows the corners that were cut, and the risks that were taken—or ignored. There’s even a clip of Schooley confessing after riding it himself, “That was really exciting because we didn’t know whether we were going to survive it or not.” The pair repeatedly ignored the advice of true experts, quipping that they were wrong and didn’t know what they were talking about.
Henry was charged with involuntary manslaughter, but the charges were dismissed. The park is closed, though, and the world’s tallest waterslide has been demolished.