This article first published on New Idea.
It was the fun park tragedy that left parents around the world feeling devastated and heartbroken for the mother and father of a little boy who can never come home. Now the family who lost their son in a horror waterslide accident have given their first interview about the tragedy.
Revealing they have chosen to share their story as an act of gratitude to the many thousands of strangers who have sent their condolences, the mother and father of Caleb Schwab, who was 10 at the time of the tragedy, say the pain will never go away.
Parents Scott and Michelle took their four boys to the Schlitterbahn water park in the US last August, when Caleb and his brother Nathan raced off to enjoy the Verrückt (which means crazy) water slide – claimed to be the tallest ride of its kind in the world.
‘Six went to the park and five came back,’ Scott told Good Morning America, in an exclusive and highly emotional interview.
‘Before they took off I said, “Brother's stick together”. He said, “I know Dad”.’
Nathan was at the base of the ride when his brother was killed, decapitated after his restraints apparently failed.
‘[Nathan] was screaming, “He flew from Verrückt, he flew from Verrückt”,’ devastated mum Michelle recalled.
The dead boy’s parents recalled how witnesses prevented them from reaching the scene; concerned they would be distraught at what they saw.
‘There was a gentlemen who wouldn’t allow me to come close enough to see what was going on,’ Michele remembers. ‘He just kept saying, “No trust me, you don’t want to go any further”.’
Naturally unable to come to grips with the surreal situation, Scott had to beg for clarity on the fate of his son.
‘I said, “I just need to hear you say it, is my son dead?” And he just shook his head. I said, “I need to hear it from you, is he dead?”’ Scott said.
‘He said, “Yes, your son is dead”.
The moment was so traumatic, Scott has no recollection of driving home from the park.
The family have since received a settlement from the park, which has now closed down the ride that killed their precious boy. But it will never make up for the loving son who is now gone forever.
Michelle says she misses hugging her son the most, heartbreakingly adding, ‘And hearing about his day, watching him play soccer, so much, so many things.’
Our deepest condolences to Scott and Michelle.