Tragedy at Schlitterbahn

I do not have a TV but I do stay current with the news through Facebook and other online news sites. The big story last night was the death at Schlitterbahn and the world’s tallest water slide (Verruckt). I was very interested in the story and visited many different news sources as well as read the comments on Facebook stories. I even watched some videos of the ride itself.

As an amusement park manager, I have no experience with water slides. However, I have been to water parks before and could kind of picture what the ride would be like without even seeing it. I have been on speed slides before where you pretty much go straight down. I hate the feeling of leaving the slide so once I tried the slide once, I never went on it again. I imagined that this water slide would have the same effect.

As I watched videos of the slide, I could see the high speed that the boats traveled and the net necessary for keeping the riders on the slide. I also watched and read about how when the slide was first built, the test dummies kept flying off the ride. This kind of shocked me because I would have thought that the designer would have the physics of the ride figured out before it was even built. But a water slide is very different from a roller coaster. The slide had to be reconfigured. The cost of this was an additional million dollars.

Despite the safety net, the ride does not seem safe to me. A water slide is very different from a roller coaster. Newer coasters have seats that have to be locked down. If a person is too large, they cannot go because the ride senses that all the seats are not locked. Then, there are other features that keep the cars from crashing into each other. The water slide is not like that. There were velcro seat belts on the boat but that was it. There was no way to keep it on the slide.

The other thing that bothered me about the water side is the weight requirement. Most rides do have height requirements. Apparently at one time, the water slide had an age requirement. I am sorry but people vary in height. At fourteen, you can have very tall kids and very short kids. Age is just a number. Height requirements on rides keeps the person safely in the restraints as well as keeps them comfortable. The weight requirement on the water slide had to be so that the boat would not go airborne or flip at any point. I realize that they weigh the people going but it still does not seem very safe.

The boy met the height requirement and must have had the right people to make the boat weigh enough. But despite numerous complaints from other people about the seat belt, the boat was still being used. And somehow, the boy lost his life.

I am not saying that amusement park rides are 100 percent safe. This summer, we actually lost an employee due to operator error. But the fact that this water slide was considered ‘safe dangerous’ doesn’t seem very safe to me.What does ‘safe dangerous’ even mean?

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