Okay, okay, okay... whoa there, hold on everyone.
This is going to be a bit long, so there is your warning, but...
Federal oversight is absolutely pointless in themed and amusement entertainment and would not have helped prevent this at all. Using accidents like this to call for better federal or state oversight is not something that would work.
Now, before I go on, I worked in management in themed entertainment for a decent period of time, I still know people within those positions, and I am still well aware of the industry. Heck, I was posting a bunch of coaster pics in the MGC thread to amuse myself earlier today.
With that having been said, there is this great media belief that people are attracted to the danger of different rides, and the more dangerous they are the more people want to go on them.
This. Is. Completely. False.
People want to go on rides for the *illusion* of danger, not actual danger. Maybe that was a thing in the 1920s when they made rides that were so crazy violent, but today - that is simply not a thing.
First, today's society is extremely litigious. And with rides like this, even in the industry, I think that's a good thing. But let's break down this cost for a moment. The family is getting $20 million from the park (and in almost all cases, parks are self-insured - interestingly, in this case apparently they aren't, but even so, it's a big cost for that insurance then). I don't know what it cost to build, but let's say it was $2 million, which is probably cheaper than it would have been. A ticket for the park is $55 at the high end. The last stats I have is that Schlitterbahn hosted 560,000 people in 2016, so... If EVERYONE paid full price which they did not, their ticket gross was just over $30 million dollars. That means between the settlement and the ride cost, they have lost almost a full season's operating cost.
Then, the impact of something like this comes up. Type Schlitterbahn into the Google search bar and "death" comes up immediately, and it will stay there for a long time. That will cause people to not come to the park, as well as the news of the accident, which will cause them to lose significantly more money.
This was a dumb dumb dumb move, and they will probably go out of business because of it, or get really darn close.
And they should. It was clearly preventable. I talked with one of my friends who is still in themed entertainment when it came out and said it was dangerous as hell and shouldn't be open, and it was a matter of time. Sadly, I was right. They thought they knew better.
It will destroy their business.
They had their insurance company come and look at it though. They didn't see anything wrong with it. Probably because they only insured like ten waterparks at most, so no one is that familiar with the rides. In what I was in, in some locations we were the only group with the rides in the state. In one, the inspector - who usually inspected farms - would come and ask us to run the rides and then ask if they were running right. We would say yes, and we were "certified" or whatever the term in that state was as safe. That's it.
But, when there are like 30 rides in the state, you don't assign a guy that you're paying full time to sit there and actually learn about them because that is an insane cost, so people don't actually learn what they are doing. The feds or state shutting something down would have no real knowledge of what they are doing until it's too late.
On the flip side, the parks know, and shut stuff down quickly.
Before I was in management, I was a coaster operator, and the "lead" (or manager) for that ride. Every morning, maintenance would spend more than an hour checking the coaster I worked on, checking each mechanical part and walking the track. They would then sign off on it and sign it to me.
When I would come in, I would also walk the entire track looking for any issues, we would run the ride doing all safety checks, and then I would have to ride each train to see if the ride "felt" right. After all of this, I would sign it off and we would open to the public.
One day, everything came up normal but when I rode it, it felt a little weird. Maintenance came and checked the ride and found no problems. The feeling that was different - something I could only explain but was not something you could see on the ride or on it's computers - could not be replicated... but they refused to sign it off for another two hours while we experimented to make sure. After it was signed off, I was under strict rules to ride it at least every 30 minutes and IMMEDIATELY shut it down if I felt anything different or if anything was different at all.
That was for a slight problem that was not repeatable, with no federal oversight. We did not screw around.
And that is how it should be. During my time in management, another park had an accident on a similar ride to one of ours. The media coverage of that ride's accident - which was not fatal and was not something that could be explained easily - led to a nearly 20% drop in attendance chain wide.
You do NOT mess with safety in the themed entertainment industry. This doesn't even get into the offseason maintenance like fully taking apart rides and x-raying the whole train piece by piece too...
Having said that, two things:
1) Waterslides are a different beast. They are NOT attached to the slide itself like a roller coaster is. This, as well as the lack of ability to be locked down onto the slide, means that they are inherently more dangerous than theme parks. That isn't to say they are dangerous, but if you see a slide doing something that doesn't seem like it should be possible, you shouldn't do it. Verruckt would have been fine if it wasn't for that stupid hill they added to it and the mesh above the hill. If it was a straight drop, straight away that slowed you down, it probably would be fine and this wouldn't have happened. And never go on a slide that is made by the park.
2) Traveling carnivals are also a different beast. For me, with my ride being shut down above, I still got paid, as did maintenance and everyone else. If I am a carny bringing my ride with me, if it is shut down I'm not getting paid. Additionally, by their nature, when there are carnival accidents, the location the carnival was gets named on TV, not the carnival company usually, making it very difficult to actually track which ones have had major issues. The operators are not attentive, and it simply isn't a thing I trust.
So yeah. The people running this park were absolutely morons who deserve everything they are going to get. If the park survives, it will be a drastically, drastically different place in the future. And it should be.