A co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts and a water slide designer have been arrested and charged with murder for the 2016 death of a 10-year-old boy who was decapitated while riding water slide at Schlitterbahn’s Kansas City park.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the charges were filed Tuesday. The Kansas attorney general’s office identified the arrested individuals as Jeffrey Henry, 62, co-owner of Texas-based Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, and John Schooley, designer of the 17-story Verruckt water slide.
Both men are charged with reckless second-degree murder for the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab as well as charges related to the injuries of 13 other people on the slide. Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 9 years to 41 years.
Henry is being held in a Texas jail without bound as of Tuesday, pending extradition to Kansas; however, Schooley is not yet in custody.
Last week, a Kansas City jury indicted Tyler Austin Miles, the former operations manager of the Kansas City Schlitterbahn park, on 20 charges, including a single count of involuntary manslaughter.
The indictments say that neither Henry nor Schooley possessed technical or engineering expertise related to amusement park rides, and that Henry made a “spur of the moment” decision to build the world’s tallest water slide in 2012 to impress the producers of a Travel Chanel show.
As the project was rushed along, the company building the water slide, Henry & Sons Construction Co., skipped essential steps in the design and building process.
The indictment contends that “not a single engineer was directly involved in Verruckt’s dynamic engineering or slide path design.” Further, when claims of airborne rafts emerged in news reports in 2014, a company spokesperson was sent out to discredit the claims as Henry and Schooley began “secretly testing at night to avoid scrutiny.”
In the 182 days the ride was in operation, 13 people suffered injuries, including temporary blindness and concussion, and one person was killed.
Amusement parks are intended to give families a fun, entertaining venue to have fun and relax. The last thing people should worry about when at an amusement park is their safety and the safety of their children. Regulation and oversight of fixed-site amusement parks can be lacking, which could lead to unsafe rides and experiences. If you or a loved one were injured while at an amusement park, contact Thomas J. Henry for a free case review.
Our experienced amusement park injury lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to take your call. Thomas J. Henry has offices located in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide.