Kansas Water Park Witness Describes 'Horrific Scene' After Boy Suffers Fatal Injury on Slide

The deadly accident happened Sunday at the Schlitterbahn Water Park.

ByABC News
August 8, 2016, 7:53 PM

— -- A 10-year-old boy who died on a water slide in Kansas City, Kansas, suffered a fatal neck injury, officials said, as a witness recounted the "horrific scene" and the "panic" that erupted in the wake of the incident last Sunday.

Esteban Castaneda told ABC News he first heard a "boom" on Schlitterbahn Waterpark's Verruckt water slide, which is promoted as the world's tallest.

He then saw a raft come through, and "immediately after the raft ... you see a body," he said.

He said there were two women sitting in the back of the raft with blood on them.

Castaneda, who said he hasn't been interviewed by police, said that he started running toward the slide, then heard a lifeguard yelling and a boy screaming hysterically.

Castaneda saw the young victim, Caleb Schwab, lying in the water, but he said a lifeguard told him, "There's nothing you can do."

Police said Caleb suffered a fatal neck injury. The two women in his raft, who were not related to Caleb, suffered minor injuries, police said.

PHOTO: Riders are propelled by jets of water as they go over a hump while riding a water slide called "Verruckt" at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City.
Riders are propelled by jets of water as they go over a hump while riding a water slide called "Verruckt" at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City.
Charlie Riedel/AP Photo

Family pastor Clint Sprague told reporters today that Caleb "was an incredible young man" who was "full of life."

He was "affectionate" and a "hugger," Sprague said, and he loved baseball, basketball and his church.

"Caleb was a 10-year-old child, but in many ways, he was a man of God," Sprague said.

A memorial service will be held Friday afternoon, Sprague said.

The boy's father, state Rep. Scott Schwab, thanked the community for the outpouring of support his family has received.

"Since the day he was born, he brought abundant joy to our family and all those he came in contact with," he said.

Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick sent an email on Sunday to other members of the state legislature asking for their prayers for the Schwabs.

"It is with an absolutely broken heart we have to ask for prayers for the Schwab family, who suddenly and tragically lost their sweet and energetic son in an accident today," he wrote. "No words can express the pain we all feel for this terrible tragedy."

In a statement, Schlitterbahn officials said they "are deeply and intensely saddened for the Schwab family and all who were impacted by the tragic accident."

"The family and each and every one of those affected are foremost on our minds and in our hearts today. We ask the community to please keep all of those impacted in your thoughts and prayers," representatives for the park said.

They said all rides are inspected daily before opening. The Verruckt ride will remain closed while the accident is investigated; the rest of the park is tentatively scheduled to reopen on Wednesday.