Schlitterbahn Co-Owner Jeff Henry Charged With Second-Degree Murder In Verruckt Waterslide Accident
Jeff Henry, the co-owner of Schlitterbahn, was arrested by U.S. Marshals on Monday in Texas, on charges related to the 2016 death of a 10-year-old boy on Verruckt, a water slide at Schlitterbahn in Kansas.
According to the Kansas City Star—Jeff Henry, Schlitterbahn co-owner, was accused of making a spur of the moment decision to build the world’s tallest waterslide and rushing it into service along with designer John Schooley. The two were accused of shoddy planning and charged Tuesday in the 2016 death of a 10-year-old boy who was decapitated on the ride when the raft he was on went airborne and hit an overhead hoop.
John Schooley (left) and Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry (right)
The Kansas attorney general’s office said Jeffrey Henry, 62, co-owner of Texas-based Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, and designer John Schooley were charged with reckless second-degree murder in the death of Caleb Schwab on the 17-story ride Verruckt, a German word for insane. The indictment also charges them with injuries to 13 other people on the slide. The charges against Henry listed on the Cameron County jail database include 12 counts of aggravated battery and five counts of aggravated child endangerment. The second-degree murder charge carries a sentence of 9 years to 41 years.
Henry, who co-owns Schlitterbahn with his siblings, was described in the indictment as “visionary and designer of the Verruckt project”, a 17-story attraction that opened in 2014 as the world’s tallest water slide.
Verrückt, a German word for “insane” or “crazy”, had been the park’s marquee attraction since opening in 2014. Its marketing materials included the slogan “R U Insane?” and it was listed by Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest water slide. After unsuccessful test runs, the opening of Verrückt was delayed while the slide underwent additional safety tests. It was re-designed and eventually opened to the public on Thursday, July 10, with a permanent safety net canopy attached.
Caleb, son of Kansas state Rep. Scott Schwab, was killed in 2016 when a raft he was on with two other women went airborne and hit a metal pole that supported a netting system meant to keep riders from flying off the ride. Caleb died of decapitation, and two other women on the raft with him that afternoon suffered serious injuries.
According to the Kansas City Star, the grand jury indictment said that Henry lacked the technical expertise needed to build Verruckt and ignored warnings from consultants who said the ride was not safe while he rushed a timeline to build a thrill ride meant to impress producers of a Travel Channel tv show.
Tyler Austin Miles, 29, former operations director at the park, was indicted on involuntary manslaughter and several other charges in Caleb’s death. The company that built the ride, Henry & Sons Construction Co., which is described as the private construction company of Schlitterbahn, also was charged.
Many are wondering why Tyler Miles, the former Director of Operations at the park is being charged. Click Here to read Tyler’s indictment. It is long, but an interesting read to hear the timeline of events that went on with Verruckt.
Henry was ordered held in a Texas jail without bond Tuesday, pending extradition to Kansas. The attorney general’s office says Schooley is…. Click Here for the full story via MSN News..
It’s unfortunate accidents like this that give thrill rides a bad name when it comes to safety. We continue to encourage everyone to still visit and support your local amusement parks. The chance of a fatal injury at a theme park is one in 1.5 billion [Source: CPSC]. By comparison, the chance of fatal injury in a car crash is almost 15 in 10,000 [Source: U.S. Department of Transportation]. You’re about twice as likely to suffer a shark attack as you are to sustain an injury at a theme park requiring a hospital stay. With that said, we still say theme park rides are incredibly safe.
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