Schlitterbahn disputes details listed in newest indictment - KCTV5 News


Schlitterbahn disputes details listed in newest indictment

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Verruckt was the world’s largest waterslide when it opened in 2014 and can be seen from anywhere inside the park. (KCTV5 File Photo) Verruckt was the world’s largest waterslide when it opened in 2014 and can be seen from anywhere inside the park. (KCTV5 File Photo)

The number of people indicted in the death of a 10-year-old boy on what was promoted as the world's largest waterslide has grown to three.

The Kansas attorney general's office says Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts co-owner Jeffrey Henry and ride designer John Schooley are charged with reckless second-degree murder in the indictment unsealed Tuesday. The charges stem from the August 2016 death of Caleb Schwab who was decapitated in 2016 when his ride went airborne at the water park in Kansas City, KS.

Schlitterbahn issued a statement Tuesday evening: 

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.

The incident that happened that day was a terrible and tragic accident. We mourn the loss of this child and are devastated for his family. We know that Tyler, Jeff, and John are innocent and that we run a safe operation – our 40 years of entertaining millions of people speaks to that.

We are confident that their innocence will be proven in court where we know the facts will show this was an accident.

The water park also published a question and answers section in response to the indictments

The attorney general's office announced Friday that the Schlitterbahn park and its former operations director, Tyler Austin Miles, had been indicted on 20 felony charges, including involuntary manslaughter.

The three defendants also were indicted in connection with injuries sustained by 13 other persons, including four other minors, while riding the waterslide. Those charges include aggravated battery and aggravated endangering a child.

Henry was arrested Monday in South Padre Island, Texas, by the U.S. Marshals Service. His next court appearance in Cameron County, Texas, District Court is scheduled for Thursday.

Schooley is not in custody at this time.

The second indictment follows a first indictment that was unsealed Friday.

The charges will be prosecuted by the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, which assumed responsibility for the case in December 2016 at the request of the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt said this second indictment also is the result of a 19-month investigation by several law enforcement agencies including Kansas City, KS Police Department, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Kansas Attorney General’s Office, Comal County and Cameron County, Texas, sheriff’s offices and the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

Former DA: Murder charge is a "tall order"

Former Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison says it's wise not to put too much weight into what a grand jury has to say from a proceeding that has no defense presence. 

“A grand jury indictment generally speaking is meaningless because they are so easily manipulated by the prosecutor," he said. 

Morrison says reckless second-degree murder requires more than knowing someone might die, but that almost certainly someone will.

He points out that a judge or jury can find for a lesser charge like "manslaughter" or "endangerment." 

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