Focus on water park safety after deadly accident in Kansas City

Water World in Federal Heights, Colorado

Water World in Federal Heights, Colorado

DENVER — It is a place people go to play.

But a water park in Kansas City was the scene of the tragic death of a young boy Sunday.

And it got us thinking about safety of water parks in the Denver metro area.

We visited Water World in Federal Heights to look at what they do to keep you safe.

The park has been in business for 37 years, with 12 million visitors and not a single death.

Joann Cortez, a Water World spokeswoman, said that’s a result of a good safety program. But also their rides are more family friendly than the one in Kansas City.

“We are in the fun business. We are in the safety business,” Cortez said.

At Water World, its 50 attractions mean fun.

But that amusement comes from discipline.

“They (the attractions) are all tested and retested. They’re checked every day. Before the park opens, before most people are even awake in the morning, we are out there testing the rides,” she said.

The park’s safety team inspects every aspect of every attraction, according to Cortez.

“So they’re looking at connections and water flow, looking at jump-off points, seating areas, anything that might be lose,” she said. The entire program is overseen by a full-time, on-site certified safety engineer.

This safety program is intended to prevent what happened at the Schlitterbahn Kansas City Water Park.

Caleb Schwab died while riding the world’s tallest water slide. “Verruckt,” which in German means “insane.”

Somehow during the 17-story-high drop, and supposedly strapped into a raft, Caleb was gravely injured.

“We don’t have any attractions where you have to be strapped in,” Cortez said.

Also, the tallest slide is six stories—Flat Line–is about a third of the height of Verruckt.

“I was nervous, I was kind of scared. But I didn’t know all the facts,” said Tracey Shaw of Littleton.

She and her husband, Larry, brought their two kids to the park, with the accident in the back of their minds.

“You hope they do their safety jobs. You hope they check everything. There are certain rides I don’t let them go on anyway,” Shaw said.

Flat Line is out.

Not to worry, her kids don’t want to ride it.

“It looks like we could fall off,” said Weston Shaw, 7. “Yah, I just don’t feel safe in that,” said his sister, Amber, 12.

They are attractions that attract screams and thrill-seekers–but on a tamer level than Schlitterbahn.

“We have nothing like what happened in Kansas here,” Cortez said.

Water World is owned and operated by the Highland Hills Parks and Recreation District. So it doesn’t report to the state. But its regulations are as stringent or more stringent than the state requires.

Last month, the park received a superior rating during a safety inspection from the National Aquatic Safety Company.