Schlitterbahn waterslide designer taken into custody

Posted at 7:46 AM, Apr 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-03 07:46:16-04

The designer of the waterslide in Kansas on which a 10-year-old boy was killed was taken into custody Tuesday at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, according to the US Marshals Service.

John Schooley, 72, had landed in Texas after a flight from China.

Schooley faces charges of second-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated endangerment of child. He is due to be arraigned, then sent to Kansas, the Marshals Service said in a news release.

Besides Schooley, two water park executives and two companies also face criminal charges related to the death of Caleb Schwab, who was decapitated in 2016 while riding what was billed as the world’s tallest waterslide.

The co-owner of the Schlitterbahn Waterpark, Jeffrey Henry, faces a second-degree murder charge, and the park’s former director of operations, Tyler Austin Miles, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. The construction company involved in designing and building the slide and the Schlitterbahn park also face charges, according to indictments unsealed in March.

All five defendants are charged with aggravated battery and aggravated child endangerment for injuries suffered by 13 others, including four children, on the water slide before Caleb’s death.

In a statement last week to CNN, the Schlitterbahn Waterpark called Caleb’s death “terrible and tragic.”

“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.”

Safety standards allegedly ‘violated’

The waterslide — named Verruckt, which means “insane” in German — was certified in 2014 by Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest water slide.

Caleb was killed 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.

Verruckt’s design “violated nearly all aspects of the longstanding industry safety standards,” according to the indictment. “In fact, the design and operation of the Verruckt complied with few, if any, of the industry safety standards.”

The park plans to contest the allegations, including claims it withheld or altered evidence, its statement said.