KANSAS CITY, Kan., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The sudden death of a 10-year-old Kansas boy -- on what's believed to be the world's tallest water slide -- is stirring questions about whether amusement and water parks should once again be regulated by the government.
Caleb Schwab died at Kansas City's Schlitterbahn Water Park on Sunday as he rode the Verrückt slide -- which carries riders nearly 170 feet off the ground at its highest point. German for "insane," the Verrückt is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest water slide on Earth.
Investigators are still trying to determine what led to the boy's death -- and how he got on the slide, since he may not have met the ride's minimum height requirement of 54 inches.
Swimmers who ride the slide are strapped to a multi-person raft with a safety harness before it plunges 17 stories, and quickly climbs back up a roller coaster-style hill before dropping another 50 feet on the other side.
The boy was the son of Kansas state Rep. Scott Schwab. Authorities said they are investigating the incident as an accident, not a crime.
Video courtesy Schlitterbahn Parks and Resorts
The unexpected accident shut down the entire water park Sunday, and it remained closed Monday. Park officials indicated that it will reopen Wednesday.
Another effect that has come with the boy's death is the question of whether potentially dangerous rides at water parks and amusement parks ought to be regulated by government inspectors.
Because the parks are not regulated, they are free to operate and inspect rides as they see fit. The Kansas City park said it has a regular daily inspection routine. The only government mandate in Kansas, for example, is that parks have their rides inspected once a year.
"In many respects, we are trusting that the host of a business -- whether it's an amusement park or water park or a traveling facility -- to provide rides that someone is looking out for our safety," National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman told NBC News. "The challenge is that we don't always know what that is and what the oversight is."
"Until we have those facts [about what caused the accident] it's too early to specify what we can do legislatively," Kansas Sen. Greg Smith said.
Immediately after the park opened, riders had to be 54 inches tall and be at least 14 years of age to ride the Verrückt. A few months later, though, the age requirement was waived.
Amusement and water parks have not been fully regulated since 1981, when federal lawmakers dropped the requirement as part of government-wide deregulations intended to cut spending. For eight years before that, permanent rides at parks were regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.