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US waterpark executives charged with murder following boy’s waterslide death

US waterpark executives charged with murder following boy’s waterslide death
March 28, 2018

Two designers of a massive waterslide at a US waterpark on which a 10-year-old boy was decapitated face second-degree murder charges in connection with the child's death.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark Kansas and its executive Tyler Miles have been charged with involuntary manslaughter over the 2016 death of Caleb Schwab, while co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, Jeffrey Henry, is being held in a Texas jail pending extradition to Kansas, charged with second degree murder.

John Schooley - the builder of the Verruckt ride - the world's tallest waterslide - has also been charged with reckless second-degree murder, but is not currently in custody, according to media reports on the indictment.

Second-degree murder carries a sentence of nine years to 41 years.

Schlitterbahn is defending the charges, saying it is disappointed any individual has been charged and that much of the evidence is taken from a scripted reality TV show.

Caleb Schwab, son of Republican state representative Scott Schwab, was decapitated after his raft went airborne from the 17-storey waterslide Verruckt at the Kansas City waterpark.

The Schwab family has since reached settlements of nearly $US20 million with Schlitterbahn and various companies associated with the design and construction of the waterslide.

Miles and Schlitterbahn Waterpark of Kansas City, Kansas, have been named as co-defendants and according to the indictment document sighted by ABC News, Schlitterbahn was indicted on one count of interference with law enforcement (concealing evidence) while director of operations Miles was indicted on 20 felony charges including the above charge and an additional charge of interference with law enforcement (obstructing official duty).

The death prompted the approval of a law last year in Kansas that prohibits self-certification of rides by amusement parks.

The 2016 death
The charges against the three executives and two companies stem from the August 2016 death of Caleb Schwab on Schlitterbahn’s Verruckt ride.

Verruckt - which means ‘insane’ in German - required two to three riders to be strapped in a raft with a total weight between 180 and 225 kilograms. The raft would then, according to the waterpark's website "slide down a jaw-dropping 168-foot-7-inch structure, only to be blasted back up a second massive hill and then sent down yet another gut-wrenching 50 foot drop for the ultimate in water slide thrills".

The slide was certified by Guinness World Records in May 2014 as the world's tallest water slide.

Caleb Schwab was decapitated when the raft he and two women were strapped into "went airborne and collided with the overhead hoops and netting affixed" to the slide. The two women suffered face injuries and lacerations, according to investigators.

The indictment against Miles notes that although Henry possessed no "technical or engineering credentials" he controlled "many key decisions" in the design of Schlitterbahn rides.

The indictment references video footage in which Henry is giving an interview explaining the danger of the ride, admitting he "could die going down this ride."

Following the indictment Scott Schwab released a statement saying the family has "full faith and trust" in Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt as it relates to the indictments and investigation.

The family statement read "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.”

'Deadly weapon'
According to the indictment, while Caleb Schwab's death "appeared at first to be an isolated and unforeseeable incident," park employees "came forward and revealed that Schlitterbahn officials had covered up similar incidents in the past" involving the water slide.

It lists 13 people, including four children, having been injured on the 17-story Verrückt slide during just 182 days of operation before the fatality.

The indictment says the attraction knew about the issues with the ride, including design failures and maintenance issues, and was aware of other injuries sustained by riders prior to Caleb Schwab's death. It details injuries suffered by at least ten other people, ranging from concussions to multiple broken toes.

The raft he was using during the incident was known "for going abnormally fast and going airborne more frequently than other rafts," the indictment says. It was removed twice in 2016 but quickly put back into circulation, investigators learned, according to the indictment.

Investigators also found multiple flaws in the ride design, noting that "it was never properly or fully designed to prevent rafts from going airborne."

Images: The Verruckt ride at Schlitterbarn Kansas City (top and middle) and Caleb Schwab (below).

5th May 2017 - FAMILY OF BOY DECAPITATED ON US WATER SLIDE TO RECEIVE MULTI MILLION DOLLAR SETTLEMENT

3rd May 2017 - AALARA 2017 TO FEATURE KEY SESSIONS ON CRITICAL INCIDENT MANAGEMENT 

22nd April 2017 - BOY IN EASTER MORNINGTON PENINSULA CARNIVAL RIDE INCIDENT DIES IN HOSPITAL

16th April 2017 - CONSULTING ENGINEER REBUTS AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY RIDE SAFETY ‘INVESTIGATION’ 

14th March 2017 - VILLAGE ROADSHOW THEME PARKS HIGHLIGHTS SAFETY AND MAINTENANCE SYSTEMS

14th December 2016 - NON-COMPLIANCE IN ATTRACTIONS AND ENTERTAINMENT HAS ITS COSTS 

29th November 2016 - US WATERPARK TO TEAR DOWN SLIDE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHILD FATALITY 

10th November 2016 - AMUSEMENT OPERATOR TO PAY $80,000 AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO HEALTH AND SAFETY CHARGE

29th October 2016 - QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT TO UNDERTAKE ‘SAFETY BLITZ’ ON THEME PARKS


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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

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