Published: Wed, April 04, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

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

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

The designer of a 17-story water slide is the third person to be charged in a 10-year-old boy's 2016 death at Kansas Schlitterbahn Waterpark.

John Schooley, 72, was taken into custody at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport after returning from China, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Schooley played a major role in the creation of Verrückt, a 168-foot-high waterslide that decapitated Caleb Schwab on August 7, 2016, at Schlitterbahn Waterpark, authorities alleged.

Both Henry and Schooley were hit with multiple other felony charges, as were the park and former operations director Tyler Austin Miles, who was hit with an involuntary murder charge.

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

He waived extradition and on Tuesday afternoon was transferred from the county jail in Brownsville, Texas, to Kansas officials. Henry's desire to "rush the project" and a lack of expertise caused the company to "skip fundamental steps in the design process".

An indictment said Schooley was responsible for doing "the math" that went into the slide's design and signed an operations manual claiming the ride met all American Society for Testing and Materials standards.

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The indictment says that a company co-owner, Jeffrey Wayne Henry, was the co-designer of the Verruckt, despite the fact that he "possesses no technical or engineering credentials" and is a high-school dropout.

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John Schooley, designer of the "Verruckt" water slide.

During the ride's 182 days in operation, 13 injuries were reported, including two concussions. The construction company involved in designing and building the slide and the Schlitterbahn park also face charges, according to indictments unsealed in March. In one of those cases, a 15-year-old girl went temporarily blind.

Schwab was the son of Kansas state Rep. Scott Schwab, and died on a day when admission was free to the families of state legislators. Two women in the same raft suffered facial injuries and lacerations.

Amusement ride design and safety experts who examined the water slide found physical evidence that other rafts had gone airborne, colliding with the overhead hoops and netting, and that the slide complied with few, if any, of the industry safety standards.

The indictment also said Schooley admitted, "If we actually knew how to do this, and it could be done that easily, it wouldn't be that spectacular".

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