Schlitterbahn official jailed in connection to 10-year-old boy's - KCTV5 News

Schlitterbahn official jailed in connection to 10-year-old boy's waterslide death

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Records show that Jeffrey Henry, co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, was booked into the jail in Cameron County, Texas. (Cameron County Sheriff's Office) Records show that Jeffrey Henry, co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, was booked into the jail in Cameron County, Texas. (Cameron County Sheriff's Office)
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV/AP) -

A water park company's co-owner was being held in a Texas jail on murder and other charges Tuesday in connection to a Kansas criminal case in the death of a 10-year-old boy on what was promoted as the world's largest waterslide.

Jail records show that Jeffrey Henry, the 62-year-old co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, was booked into the jail in Cameron County, Texas, on three charges: murder, aggravated battery and aggravated child endangerment.

He was being held on a $500,000 bond, and a jail booking clerk said he would remain there until a court appearance later Tuesday.

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. The charges include a single count of involuntary manslaughter over the death of Caleb Schwab in 2016.

"While we as a family continue to mourn and heal from Caleb's passing, we wanted to again thank the community of Kansas City for its continued prayers and support," Caleb's father, Kansas Republican state Rep. Scott Schwab, said in a statement Tuesday. "Clearly the issues with Schlitterbahn go far beyond Caleb's incident, and we know the attorney general will take appropriate steps in the interest of public safety."

Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said that considering last week's indictment, the company is not surprised by Henry's arrest. The company also promised to aggressively fight the criminal charges against Miles and the park, and respond to the allegations in the 47-page indictment "point by point."

"We as a company and as a family will fight these allegations and have confidence that once the facts are presented it will be clear that what happened on the ride was an unforeseeable accident," she said in an emailed statement.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office did not immediately respond to phone calls and emails seeking further comment, details about Henry's arrest, or information about exactly what criminal charges he faces. The Kansas City Star reported that Henry was taken into custody by U.S. marshals out of Brownsville, Texas.

Prosapio said Schlitterbahn does not expect any changes to the Kansas City park's season, which is set to open May 25 and run through Labor Day. The big slide there - Verruckt, or German for "insane" - has been closed since Caleb died.

The boy was decapitated after the raft on which he was riding went airborne. The family reached settlements of nearly $20 million with Schlitterbahn and various companies associated with the design and construction of the waterslide.

The two women who rode with Caleb suffered serious injuries and settled claims with Schlitterbahn for an undisclosed amount.

The indictment against Miles and the park alleges that Verruckt met few, if any, industry standards and that Miles delayed or avoided necessary repairs, even after the ride's brake system failed.

The indictment also said Henry helped design the giant waterslide even though he had "no technical or engineering credentials" and that he set a "rushed timeline" for its construction.

Schlitterbahn said last week's indictment is "full of false information," and the company also rejected its allegations that Miles and the company withheld information from law enforcement officials. It said the allegation that Caleb's death was foreseeable is "beyond the pale of speculation."

Miles' attorneys said in their own statement that they welcome the opportunity to prove his innocence in court.

"Not only had Tyler ridden the slide numerous times, but, as the State is aware, he had scheduled his wife, to ride it on the day of the accident," the attorneys, Tom and Tricia Bath, said in their statement. "These are not the actions of someone who believed the ride to be dangerous."

Full statement: 

While we as a family continue to mourn and heal from Caleb’s passing, we wanted to again thank the community of Kansas City for its continued prayers and support. While we have no control over the investigation, we have full faith and trust in Attorney General Derek Schmidt and his office as relates to last week’s indictments, as well as any other decisions that office may make going forward. Clearly the issues with Schlitterbahn go far beyond Caleb’s incident, and we know the Attorney General will take appropriate steps in the interest of public safety.

Schlitterbahn also released a new statement on Monday: 

We were shocked by the allegations being made by the 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 accusation that we withheld information or altered evidence is completely false. We have operated with integrity from day one at the waterpark – as we do throughout our waterparks and resorts. We put our guests and employees safety first; and safety and maintenance are at the top of our list of priorities. 

Since the date of the incident we have worked closely with law enforcement; at no time have we withheld evidence; at no time have we altered evidence. The indictment uses quoted statements from a reality TV show that was scripted for dramatic effect that in no way reflects the design and construction of the ride. 

Quotes were purported to be from definitive design meetings, when they were, in fact, “acting.”

During the civil matter, attorneys involved noted that we cooperated fully, provided thousands of documents, and that nothing was withheld or tampered with. The secret Grand Jury never heard one word from us directly, nor were we allowed to provide contradictory evidence. And we have plenty.

In fact, the indictment presented is so full of false information that it has shocked the Kansas legal community, as you can see in the statement from Tyler Miles’ attorneys below. 

Our legal team will be speaking out against each of the allegations point by point in the coming weeks and months. Rest assured, we stand behind our staff and all our parks. We will be fighting these charges aggressively. We know that Tyler is innocent and that we run a safe operation – our 40 years of entertaining millions of people speaks to that. 

We look forward to proving this in court where we know the facts will prove this was an accident.

Below is the statement provided by Tyler’s attorneys, Tom and Tricia Bath:

The suggestions that C.S.’s death was foreseeable to Tyler Miles, that, with this knowledge Tyler “avoided or delayed repairs,” and that Tyler “had covered up similar incidents” are simply not true. Not only had Tyler ridden the slide numerous times, but, as the State is aware, he had scheduled his wife, to ride it on the day of the accident. These are not the actions of someone who believed the ride to be dangerous.

The allegation that Tyler knowingly obstructed the investigation is, likewise, false.  From the moment of the accident, and continuing until the charges were filed, Tyler cooperated with law enforcement. He did not hide or destroy documents. 

The Constitution requires that an Indictment be based upon legal evidence- not speculation or conjecture. This Indictment is based upon Grand Jury proceedings, which are conducted in secret. While neither we nor the public have had an opportunity to see transcripts of Grand Jury witness testimony, the Indictment is littered with references to evidence that is not legal. 

Only after Tyler is able to obtain transcripts, witness statements and police reports will he, like any citizen, be in a position to fully address these allegations. What we know is that Tyler is innocent, which is why he insisted, at his first court appearance, that we set the matter for jury trial. We look forward to the opportunity to challenge the evidence, in a public forum, and prove Tyler’s innocence. 

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