Company Co-Owner Jailed Over Ride That Decapitated Boy

Co-owner, ride designer charged with murder in death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 27, 2018 6:20 PM CDT
In this July 9, 2014, file photo, ride designer Jeffery Henry looks over his creation, the world's tallest waterslide called "Verruckt" at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kan.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
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(Newser) – A water park company co-owner accused of making a spur of the moment decision to build the world's tallest waterslide and rushing it into service, and a designer accused of shoddy planning, were charged Tuesday in the 2016 death of a 10-year-old boy who was decapitated on the ride when the raft he was on went airborne and hit an overhead hoop, the AP reports. The Kansas attorney general's office said Jeffrey Henry, 62, co-owner of Texas-based Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, and designer John Schooley were charged with reckless second-degree murder in the death of Caleb Schwab on the 17-story ride Verruckt, a German word for insane. The indictment also charges them with injuries to 13 other people on the slide. Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 9 years to 41 years. The company that built the ride, Henry & Sons Construction Co., which is described as the private construction company of Schlitterbahn, also was charged.

Henry was ordered held in a Texas jail without bond Tuesday, pending extradition to Kansas. The attorney general's office says Schooley is not in custody. Henry's arrest on Monday followed a Kansas grand jury's indictment last week of the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas, and its former operations director, Tyler Austin Miles, on 20 felony charges. Indictments say neither Henry nor Schooley had technical or engineering expertise related to amusement park rides. Henry made a "spur of the moment" decision in 2012 to build the world's tallest water slide to impress the producers of a Travel Channel show, the indictments say. Henry's desire to "rush the project" and a lack of expertise caused the company to "skip fundamental steps in the design process." The indictment said, "not a single engineer was directly involved in Verruckt's dynamic engineering or slide path design." The indictment said that in 2014, when there were news reports emerging about airborne rafts, a company spokesperson "discredited" them and Henry and his designer began "secretly testing at night to avoid scrutiny." Click for more.


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