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Kansas water park co-owner appears in court over 10-year-old boy’s death by decapitation in 2016

Jeffrey Henry appeared at a court in Brownsville, Texas, on Wednesday, to agree his extradition to Kansas to face charges including reckless second-degree murder

The co-owner of a water park where a 10-year-old boy was decapitated has appeared in a Texas court to agree his extradition to Kansas, where he and two co-workers will face charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to second-degree murder.

Jeffrey Henry will not oppose his extradition to Kansas, where Schlitterbahn Waterpark is located, and will remain in Cameron County Jail in Brownsville, Texas, until he is picked up by officials from the state.

Henry and ride designer John Schooley are charged with reckless second-degree murder in the Tuesday indictment over the August 2016 death of Caleb Schwab, who was decapitated when his raft went airborne on the world’s largest waterslide.

The grand jury last week also indicted the park and its former chief operations officer, Tyler Austin Miles, on 20 felony charges, including involuntary manslaughter.

Henry & Sons Construction Co., which is described as the private construction company of Schlitterbahn, is charged with reckless second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 9 years to 41 years in prison.

Schlitterbahn itself faces several other charges in connection to the 13 other people who were injured while riding the slide, which has since been shut down.

Ride designer John Schooley (pictured) is charged with reckless second-degree murder

Tyler Austin Miles (pictured) was indicted last week on 20 felony charges including involuntary manslaughter

 Ride designer John Schooley (left) is charged with reckless second-degree murder while operations manager Tyler Austin Miles faces 20 felony charges including involuntary manslaughter

Caleb Schwab (pictured) was horrifically killed in August 2016 while riding the 170-foot Verrückt water slide at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City 

Caleb Schwab (pictured) was horrifically killed in August 2016 while riding the 170-foot Verrückt water slide at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City 

Miles’ attorney said he was released on $50,000 bond. Henry – who is also charged with aggravated battery and child endangerment – was ordered held without bond and prosecutors say Schooley is not in custody. 

Kansas said it will conduct a full audit of the inspection records at Schlitterbahn before its annual season opens on May 25.

Department spokeswoman Barbara Hersh said the park is required to have qualified inspectors examine its rides daily and to keep reports on those inspections. She said the department will ensure that the inspections have been done.

Schlitterbahn described Caleb’s death as a ‘terrible and tragic accident’ in a statement.

It says Henry, Schooley and Miles are ‘innocent’ and that the company runs a ‘safe operation.’

Caleb died when his raft went airborne and he hit an overhead loop.

It recently emerged that employees at the attraction warned executives about the water slide’s faulty brakes that failed at least 29 times.

Footage has also emerged of Henry saying the 170-foot Verrückta that took the life of Schwab, was the ‘safest ever ride built’.

In the 2014 interview with Good Morning America, the interviewer asked Henry on the ride’s opening day, ‘So you’re saying it is safe?,’ while speaking of the world’s tallest slide constructed at his park.

Henry will remain in Cameron County Jail in Brownsville, Texas, until he is picked up by officials from the state.

Henry (pictured in court on Wednesday) will not oppose his extradition to Kansas, where Schlitterbahn Waterpark is located

The indictment also states that Henry and Miles tried to hide from investigators reports of a number of injuries that had occurred on the ride before Schwab's death 

The indictment also states that Henry and Miles tried to hide from investigators reports of a number of injuries that had occurred on the ride before Schwab’s death 

The owner replied: ‘Oh, yeah… this ride is probably the safest that’s ever been built. It’s been tested… it’s been evaluated.’

The indictment claims that employees at the park previously warned executives about the brakes failing, but the defects were never repaired.

Nathan Campbell, a lifeguard at the park, told Good Morning America he was also injured on the ride during testing.

‘The brakes just didn’t work and we just never stopped and kept going, hit the very end of the ride, and flipped off,’ Campbell said.

The indictment has revealed numerous allegations of negligence, including that Miles and Henry ignored safety red flags in their quest to build the world’s tallest water slide, according to the Washington Post.

Investigators claim that while Henry and Miles knew that Verrückt was dangerous, they rushed to get the ride open, even replacing mathematical calculations with ‘crude trial-and-error methods’.

It also cites comments from Henry in which he plainly states that the slide is a ‘seriously dangerous piece of equipment’.

Schwab's family (pictured) settled a multiple defendant lawsuit with Schlitterbahn for $20million last year

Schwab’s family (pictured) settled a multiple defendant lawsuit with Schlitterbahn for $20million last year

Schlitterbahn Waterpark co-owner Jeffery Henry is heard in this 2014 Good Morning America interview say the water slide that decapitated a 10-year-old was the 'safest ever built'

Schlitterbahn Waterpark co-owner Jeffery Henry is heard in this 2014 Good Morning America interview say the water slide that decapitated a 10-year-old was the ‘safest ever built’

‘[Verrückt] could hurt me, it could kill me,’ Henry stated, according to the indictment. ‘There are things that we don’t know about it.’

‘Every day we learn more. I’ve seen what this one has done to the crash dummies and to the boats we sent down it…it’s complex, it’s fast, it’s mean.’

‘If we mess up, it could be the end. I could die going down this ride.’

It was Henry who came up with the idea for Verrückt, wanting to build a ride that would impress producers of the Xtreme Waterparks series on the Travel Channel, according to the indictment.

Henry designed the ride with his business partner Schooley, despite the fact that neither of them ‘had any credentials in mathematics, physics, or engineering’.

The pair raced to have the entire slide finished in just seven months, completing a prototype of the ambitious ride in just 36 days.

Investigators say the company ignored obvious red flags and safety violations in regards to the slide. Henry allegedly pushed for it to be done in seven months despite knowing it was unsafe

Investigators say the company ignored obvious red flags and safety violations in regards to the slide. Henry allegedly pushed for it to be done in seven months despite knowing it was unsafe

Nathan Campbell, a lifeguard at the park, said he was also injured on the ride during testing

Nathan Campbell, a lifeguard at the park, said he was also injured on the ride during testing

An engineering firm was then hired to test the slide’s safety just a week before its grand opening.

The tests showed that, when carrying a weight of 400 to 550lbs, the rafts on the slide were likely to go airborne.

This was especially dangerous as the slide was covered with a net suspended by metal hoops, meaning riders could knock into them if the raft went airborne.

The indictment notes that this is in violation of international standards that prohibit a ride from obstructing a rider’s path.

‘Henry and Schooley did the opposite,’ the indictment states. ‘They installed metal bars directly across the known flight path.’

‘The presence of the overheard netting and support hoops speaks volumes about the designers’ extreme disregard for the value of human life.’

Schwab was decapitated when his raft collided with the hoops, and two women he was riding with suffered bone fractures and lacerations.

The indictment claims that Henry was well aware of this problem and tried to fix it before eventually ignoring it entirely.

Two women, Hannah Barnes and Matraca Baetz, who rode behind Caleb on that ride were also seriously injured, but survived

Two women, Hannah Barnes and Matraca Baetz, who rode behind Caleb on that ride were also seriously injured, but survived

Nathan Campbell, a lifeguard at the park, said he was also injured on the ride during testing

Nathan Campbell, a lifeguard at the park, said he was also injured on the ride during testing

The Verruckt slide, which is a German word for 'crazy' or 'insane', has been closed since the boy's death. It is nearly 170-feet tall and features a 17-story plunge

The Verruckt slide, which is a German word for ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’, has been closed since the boy’s death. It is nearly 170-feet tall and features a 17-story plunge

It states that 13 people total were injured in the two years the ride was opened, with some reporting neck pain and even concussions.

Investigators also revealed that designers scratched a plan to make the minimum age 14 years old to ride the slide on the eve of its grand opening.

Schlitterbhan spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said in a statement that considering last week’s indictment, the company is not surprised by Henry’s arrest.

‘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,’ she said in an emailed statement.

‘The safety of our Schlitterbahn guests and employees has been at the forefront of our culture throughout our 40 years of operation. Many of us rode Verrückt regularly, as did our children and grandchildren.’

Employees at the park told executives the brakes failed at least 29 TIMES on 'world's tallest water slide' but there were no repairs

Employees at the park told executives the brakes failed at least 29 TIMES on ‘world’s tallest water slide’ but there were no repairs

The indictment has revealed numerous allegations of negligence, including that Miles and Henry ignored safety red flags in their quest to build the world's tallest water slide

The indictment has revealed numerous allegations of negligence, including that Miles and Henry ignored safety red flags in their quest to build the world’s tallest water slide

Verruckt, which is a German word for ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’, was named the world’s tallest water slide in 2014.

Although the slide is closed, it still remains standing due to a court order to facilitate investigation.

Schwab’s family settled a multiple defendant lawsuit with Schlitterbahn, an affiliated general contractor called Henry & Sons Construction, the raft manufacturer Zebec USA, and a consultant named John Hunsucker for $19.7 million last year.

‘While we as a family continue to mourn and heal from Caleb’s passing, we wanted to again thank the community of Kansas City for its continued prayers and support,’ Caleb’s family said in a statement.

‘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.’                         

 Caleb is pictured here with his father, Kansas state Representative Scott Schwab

 Caleb is pictured here with his father, Kansas state Representative Scott Schwab



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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