Experts work to determine the cause of crash on Verrukt water slide

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The victims in the tragedy at Schlitterbahn have hired attorneys to investigate exactly what happened that led to the Aug. 7 death of 10-year-old Caleb Shwab.

Lawyers for the family of Caleb Shwab and for the two women who were in the raft when he died are joining forces. They want the country's premier experts in engineering, construction, physics, and other specialties to examine the world's tallest water slide, even as the petition to close the attraction grows.

FOX 4's Shannon O'Brien spoke with some of the professionals working on the case, although no one with Schlitterbahn's own internal investigation would speak with FOX 4.

Some attorneys on the case said the public deserves to know what happened, and they're working to get those answers.

"Whether or not by its design, it was more dangerous than it should have been," attorney John Parisi said. Parisi represents the two women who were in the raft when Schwab died.

Parisi, along with the Schwab family's attorney, are already armed with questions about what went wrong with the water slide.

"What was the speed? Was the speed too great? Was the incline too great?" he asked. He also wonders about the weight in the raft. He acknowledges that the weight was within the park's safety requirements, but there is the question of whether or not the weight distribution contributed to the tragedy.

"For that particular situation, that's probably the case," UMKC Associate Physics Professor Paul Rulis said. "There's probably a lot of other variables that have to come into play in terms of what would be the best weight distribution. Rulis is not involved in the investigation, but does have some converns about 75-lb. Caleb sitting in the front, with the two ladies weighing 197 lbs. and 275 lbs. in the back.

"Once the lip is exposed, if there is air blowing on that or just because it's moving forward, if the weight is in the back it would be easier for the raft to start to rotate," Rulis explained.

"If in fact, what's been reported is the case, that other individuals reported rafts elevating out of the water as they went over the second hump, and other individuals experienced restraints coming loose, and they reported that, then the next question is what, if anything, was done with that information?" Parisi said.

If you have had any of those experiences Parisi mentioned, he would like to hear from you. Parisi said so far, Schlitterbahn has been cooperative in the investigation.

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