Executives in charge of a Kansas water park were charged in the death of a 10-year-old boy who was decapitated on a water slide in 2016.
Two designers of the water slide known as Verruckt, which means “insane” in German, will face second-degree murder charges in connection with the child’s death. Caleb Schwab, 10, the son of a Kansas Republican state lawmaker, died on the 17-story slide when the raft he was on went airborne and hit an overhead loop, killing him.
"Time, is of the essence. No time to die," reads a Dec. 14, 2012, email between ride designer & #Schlitterbahn owner. "This is a design product for TV, absolutely cannot be anything else. Speed is 100% required."
On 8/7/16, Caleb Schwab died on Verruckt.https://t.co/ZTa1VWdOTt pic.twitter.com/CeXkXW66Pc
— The Kansas City Star (@KCStar) March 23, 2018
Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeffrey Henry and designer of Schooley were charged with second-degree murder. Henry & Sons Construction Co., a private construction company, was also charged. They were also charged with 17 other felonies, NPR reported. The park’s director of operations, Tyler Austin Miles, was charged earlier.
Indictments alleged that neither Henry and Schooley “possessed any kind of technical or engineering credential relevant to amusement ride design or safety.” And they conceived the Verruckt slide “in a spur-of-the-moment bid to impress producers of the Travel Channel’s Xtreme Waterparks series,” it added.
“If we actually knew how to do this, and it could be done that easily,” Schooley apparently said of the ride, according to the documents. “It wouldn’t be that spectacular.”
Photo illustration by The Daily BeastThe co-owner of a Kansas City water park where a 10-year-old boy was decapitated during a family outing in 2016 was arrested Monday on a slew of charges related to the boy’s death.Caleb Schwab, the baseball-obsessed son of Kansas State Rep…. pic.twitter.com/5mQp2YMo6B
— News Dingo (@NewsDingo) March 28, 2018
Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said in an online statement that the indictment against the men and the construction company is “filled with information that we fully dispute.”
“This indictment, as in the previous one related to Tyler Miles, is wrought with references to the outtakes of a dramatic, scripted television show, and filled with information that we fully dispute. Jeff Henry has designed waterpark rides the world over. Nearly every waterpark that exists today has an attraction or feature based on his designs or ideas,” she said. The statement added that “the accusation that we withheld information or altered evidence is completely false.”
Eleven riders reported injuries on Verruckt before Caleb Schwab died, indictment says https://t.co/gVXXyn6WnZ
— The Kansas City Star (@KCStar) March 24, 2018
She added: “We were shocked by the allegations being made by the Kansas Attorney General about Tyler and our KC park. The allegation that we operated, and failed to maintain, a ride that could foreseeably cause such a tragic accident is beyond the pale of speculation. Many of us, and our children and grandchildren, have ridden the ride with complete confidence as to its safety. Our operational mantra has been and will forever be Safety First.”
The firm also posted a statement saying that all park attractions are “thoroughly inspected daily” by supervisors and managers, NBC reported.
BREAKING: Former Schlitterbahn executive Tyler Miles arrested on involuntary manslaughter, and is being held in Wyandotte County Jail on $50,000 bond. Ten-year-old Caleb Schwab died in 2016 while riding down the Verruckt water slide at Schlitterbahn. @KCTV5 pic.twitter.com/IAO0WQAFfg
— Ellen McNamara (@EllenKCTV5) March 23, 2018
“Verrückt suffered from a long list of dangerous design flaws; however, the most obvious and potentially lethal flaw was that Verrückt’s design guaranteed that rafts would occasionally go airborne in a manner that could severely injure or kill the occupants,” according to the indictments, as NPR reported. Thirteen people were injured on the ride, according to the indictments, saying there were two concussions and another instance when a teen rider went temporarily blind.
The park closed the Verruckt ride after the boy’s death, and there are plans to demolish it. The Kansas City Star reported that the ride must remain standing amid the investigation.