Waterpark owner, operator charged with murder in connection with boy’s death
The co-owner and operator of a Kansas waterpark face murder, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated battery and aggravated endangerment of a child charges in the death of ten-year-old Caleb Schwab, who was decapitated on a water slide in 2016.
Jeffrey Wayne Henry, co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts in Kansas City, Kansas was arrested yesterday in Texas and held without bond, pending his extradition to Kansas to face charges. Tyler Austin Miles, former director of operations of the park, was indicted last week. In addition to the above charges, Miles is charged with interference with law enforcement.
Caleb was killed on August 7th on the 168ft-high Verruckt, the tallest water slide in the world. Caleb was one of three passengers going down the slide in a multi-person raft. The two adults in the boat with him and 11 other people – including four children - were injured in the incident.
The indictment alleges that Henry "possesses no technical or engineering credentials, yet he controls decisions regarding Schlitterbahn design and construction projects...In place of mathematical and physics calculations, they rushed forward relying almost entirely on crude trial-and-error methods."
The indictment goes on to say that Henry and Miles were aware that the ride "suffered from a long list of serious design flaws," but viewed the rushed opening of the ride akin to winning "an arms race against rival waterparks."
Schlitterbahn issued a statement denying the allegations and vowed to fight the charges aggressively. The company maintained that its “operational mantra” is “Safety First.”
After the incident, it was discovered that the ride had not been inspected by the state since it was opened – which led to calls for tougher oversight of amusement parks.
The ride was closed after the accident. Verruckt means “insane” in German.