Executives Charged With Murder in Decapitation Death of 10-Year-Old Boy

March 29, 2018 Updated: March 29, 2018

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

“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.

 

 

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