Gov. Brownback, state leaders bring up possible changes to KS amusement parks

Posted at 9:30 PM, Aug 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-13 00:19:02-04

Governor Sam Brownback and other state leaders said increased amusement park regulations may be on the way following the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab at Schlitterbahn on Sunday.

While speaking to reporters on Friday, Brownback addressed how change may be needed following this week's tragedy.

"When I first heard about it on Sunday, it was gut wrenching," he said.

Brownback spoke about the time he went on Verruckt, the ride Schwab died on, with his children.

"They weighed you at the bottom and they weighed you at the top because the issue they were concerned about at the time was weight," he explained.

Kansas state laws on amusement parks and their rides have been under the microscope following Sunday's tragedy.

RELATED | KS Department of Labor has one inspection record on file for Schlitterbahn

Across the country, Kansas is known for having some of the lightest regulations compared to other states.

In 2008, state leaders passed many of the regulations still in place today.

Permanent amusement park rides are subject to annual inspections and random state audits of the inspection records.

However, the inspections can be done by private inspectors, not state officers.

State leaders, including State Representative Linda Gallagher, said the state laws do not go far enough and more must be done to prevent another tragic death on a ride.

"Frankly, I am surprised at how lax Kansas seems to be with its regulation of amusement park rides," said Gallagher, a Republican who represents parts of Johnson County.

Gallagher explained how she remembered seeing Caleb on the House floor as he helped his dad, State Rep. Scott Schwab from Olathe, during his workday.

"[Scott Schwab's children] look like Scott," she said. "They just had his type of personality and zest for life."

Gallagher hopes state leaders focus on how safety and construction are handled at amusement parks in Kansas, as well as inspections and requirements for rides.

"As a legislator, I would have thought there was more regulation of this industry," she explained.

As the state looks towards possibly making changes to amusement park regulations, Brownback told reporters that Kansas may look to other states as guidance.

"Something that you're seeing other states do is post when a place is inspected or have it required that it is publicly displayed," he explained.

Gallagher expects leaders to hold hearings and discuss possible changes during the next Kansas legislative session in January of next year.

Moving forward, Gallagher hopes state leaders can work together to prevent another tragic accident from happening again.

"We just have to take this as an opportunity to take what happened and try to make something better come of it," she said.



Tom Dempsey can be reached at

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