Co-Owner of Park Where Caleb Schwab, 10, Was Killed in Water Slide Accident Is Arrested
Schwab was decapitated while riding Verruckt, a water slide the park claimed was the world’s largest.
The co-owner of a Kansas water park where a 10-year-old boy was killed has been arrested in connection to the child’s death.
Jeffery Henry, who co-owns Schlitterbahn Waterpark, was taken into custody and booked into jail in Cameron County, Texas, online records show.
Henry was arrested in connection to the criminal case that arose from the death of Caleb Schwab, who was decapitated while riding Verrückt, a water slide the park claimed was the world’s largest.
Caleb was with two others in raft that was supposed to drop nearly 170 feet. His body was discovered in a pool at the bottom of Verrückt, which is the German word for "crazy" or "insane."
The two adult women with Caleb were severely injured in the incident.
The slide has been closed since Caleb’s death on Aug. 7, 2016.
"The death of [Caleb Schwab] appeared at first to be an isolated and unforeseeable incident until whistleblowers from within Schlitterbahn’s own ranks came forward and revealed that Schlitterbahn officials had covered up similar incidents in the past," a 47-page indictment filed by the state of Kansas said.
Investigators said the company hastily built the water slide to earn the title of "world’s largest," and ignored known safety concerns about the ride in its rushed construction.
Others allegedly suffered injuries from riding the water slide, including neck pain and concussions, but the slide remained open, officials said.
From the ride’s opening on July 10, 2014, to Caleb’s death, 13 people were allegedly injured, investigators said.
For the most part, the injuries occurred when people hit a large metal netting after their rafts had gone airborne, according to investigators.
Caleb is believed to have struck a metal pole that was in place to support a netting system, investigators said.
"The presence of the overhead netting and support hoops speaks volumes about the designers' extreme disregard for the value of human life," the indictment said.
Henry is accused of pushing for the slide to be finished in seven months and allegedly made comments that he knew it could pose a danger to riders.
"(Verrückt) could hurt me, it could kill me, it is a seriously dangerous piece of equipment today because there are things that we don't know about it," Henry said, according to the indictment.
Henry faces 12 counts of aggravated battery and five counts of aggravated child endangerment.
He was being held without bond.
Henry’s arrest comes a week after a grand jury indicted the park and its former operations manager, Tyler Austin Miles, on 20 felony charges.
Those charges include a single count of involuntary manslaughter over Caleb’s death.
Miles, 29, pleaded not guilty Friday during a brief court appearance.
Schlitterbhan spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that the company was not surprised by Henry’s arrest, given last week’s indictment.
“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,” Prosapio said.
Henry is expected in court Tuesday.
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