Water Slide Designer Is Latest Arrest Linked to Caleb Schwab's Death

Playing Water Slide Designer Arrested in Connection to 10-Year-Old's Death on Ride

The designer of the Kansas water slide on which a 10-year-old boy was decapitated has been arrested in the child’s death, the latest to be charged in the tragic 2016 incident.

John Schooley, 72, was taken into custody in Dallas Monday after arriving on a flight from China, according to reports.

John Schooley
DCSO

He was charged with second-degree murder, multiple counts of aggravated endangering a child and aggravated battery in connection to the death of Caleb Schwab, online jail records show.

Caleb was killed in August 2016 while riding the 168-foot-tall Verrückt — the German word for "insane" — at Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort in Kansas.

The water slide was said to be world’s largest and was designed by Schooley, who "possesses no engineering credentials relevant to amusement ride design or safety," a 47-page indictment filed by the state of Kansas said.

"If we actually knew how to do this, and it could be done that easily, it wouldn’t be that spectacular," Schooley allegedly said, according to the indictment. 

Schooley and Jeffery Henry, who co-owns Schlitterbahn Waterpark, were both accused of skipping fundamental steps in the design process in an effort to rush its timeline.

From the ride’s opening on July 10, 2014, to Caleb’s death on Aug. 7, 2016, 13 people were allegedly injured, investigators said.

Caleb is believed to have struck a metal pole that was in place to support a netting system, investigators said. His body was found in a pool at the bottom of the ride.

The two adult women with Caleb were severely injured in the incident.

"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," the indictment said.

In addition to Schooley, Henry and the construction company that built the slide have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with Caleb's death. Former park operations director Tyler Austin Miles and the park have been charged with involuntary manslaughter as well. 

All are charged with multiple counts of aggravated battery and aggravated endangering a child in connection to injuries other riders sustained on the slide.

Miles was arrested last month and released from a Kansas jail on bond. He has pleaded not guilty.

Henry was arrested last week in Cameron County, Texas, and waived extradition to Kansas during a court hearing.

Schooley will be held pending his arraignment and extradition to Kansas, authorities said.

Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said in a statement to CBS News Tuesday that the latest indictment against Henry, Schooley and the construction company "is filled with information that we fully dispute."

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