The death of a Schlitterbahn employee has a local family seeking answers and changes to the waterpark’s policies and procedures.
Jose Carmen Rodriguez Toledo, an employee of Schlitterbahn for 22 years, died at the end of May after suffering a heat stroke during one of his shifts at the New Braunfels Schlitterbahn location.
According to medical documentation, Toledo’s internal temperature was 107 degrees Fahrenheit when paramedics began working on him. Although medical staff worked on Toledo for 90 minutes and got his temperature down to 103.5 degrees, before Toledo died shortly after 3 p.m. on May 22.
Now Maria Toledo, Jose Toledo’s widow, and Amanda Sanders, his daughter, are demanding answers. The two have hired the same attorney who successfully sued Schlitterbahn’s owners after a 10-year-old boy died in the Kansas City waterpark in 2016.
Maria Toledo said that Jose’s boss was contacted twice about issues with his health.
“The first time to say, ‘Hey, Jose is here and he’s not feeling well,’” she said. “And the second time to say, ‘We think he needs medical attention.’”
Maria Toledo said she was told Jose Toledo’s boss answered skeptically, asking if Jose really needed medical attention.
“It’s not about the money for us, it’s about him,” Maria Toledo said. “It’s about the fact they should have taken him a block or two over to the hospital instead of to another location in the park.”
Sanders said she wants her father’s death to spark change in the waterpark’s training policies.
“We want to spread awareness and let Schlitterbahn know that their employees are important, and more first aid and water stands need to be provided for them — especially down in areas where no one really goes,” Sanders said. “I want to bring awareness out to the community. I want everyone to know the signs to look for in a heat stroke and what process they need to follow when someone is ill and 911 has to be called.”
Other changes Sanders hopes to see are more frequent breaks for employees.
“My question is why wasn’t he taken to the hospital? Doctors said if he had come sooner he would have lived,” Sanders said. “I feel if all employees went through a first aid training and knew what to do in this type of situation, my dad would have been saved.”
Sanders remembers her father as a dedicated man who never missed a day of work unless he was too sick.
“He had been with the Schlitterbahn for 22 years and just loved what he did,” she said. “He left behind a loving wife and four kids. And a total of 10 grandbabies that meant the whole world to him.”
Maria Toledo described her husband as hard working.
“He would get to his shift 30 to 45 minutes before it started,” Maria Toledo said. “He was always smiling. He was our provider, he provided for us and made sure we had enough to get by.”
A small memorial sits in Maria Toledo’s apartment home, with a photo of her and her husband, along with his Schlitterbahn shirt, his nametag and a stuffed animal of the Schlitterbahn mascot.
In the wake of Jose Toledo’s death, Schlitterbahn released a statement that said they have all been very affected by his loss.
“He was a very well respected and liked by everyone who worked with him,” the statement said. “He was a diligent and highly committed member of our team for more than 20 years. We were proud and blessed to count him as a member of the Schlitterbahn family.”
“We have been working directly with Mrs. Toledo and have no further information we can share.”