The Rushmore Report: Boy Dies at Water Park – Four Lessons

A Kansas City water park and the world’s tallest waterslide remained closed this week while authorities investigated the death of the 10-year-old son of a state lawmaker. Caleb Schwab died Sunday at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas, while riding the Verruckt – German for “insane” – a slide that drops riders at 65 mph from a height of almost 169 feet. Riders sit in a three-person raft and are secured with straps across the waist and shoulders. Marketing materials include the slogan “R U Insane?”

“Since the day he was born, he brought abundant joy to our family and all those he came in contact with,” the family said in a statement. “As we try to mend our home with him no longer with us, we are comforted he believed in our Savior Jesus, and they are forever together now. We will see him another day.”

I see four lessons from this horrible tragedy . . .

1. Speed kills. Man is always seeking new ways to go faster. Men still brag about the “horsepower” in their cars long after they quit riding horses. Nothing in this life ever satisfies. I still remember the day in 1984 when I skipped seminary to be at Waterworld, the first water park in Houston, on the day that it opened. I was the first person to go down what was then the tallest water slide in the world. That slide would barely make it into a kiddie park today. Speed can be fun, but the constant desire to go faster, do more, and get more – kills.

2. Life is brief. James asked, “What is your life? It is but a vapor that quickly vanishes” (James 4:17). Caleb was just ten years old. But whether you live to be ten or 110, life is so short. The lesson? Live every day, all 24 hours and all 1,440 minutes to their fullest. Make every second – all 86,400 seconds of every day – count.

3. Family matters most. I know what it is to lose two parents, all my grandparents, an aunt, an uncle, and many close friends. What I don’t know is what it’s like to lose a child. I pray that is something I will never experience. But may this horrific experience of the Schwab family remind us the value of family. I try to meet my son for lunch once a week. And we never leave without a hug.

4. Jesus is the great Comforter. The Schwab’s family released their statement. Let me say it again: “We are comforted Caleb believed in our Savior Jesus, and they are forever together now.” Such a crisis may never hit your family. But some tragedy will. And when it does, only Jesus will be enough.

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