Water park official jailed in connection with water-slide death

TOPEKA, Kansas. A water park company co-owner was held in a Texan prison for murder and other charges Tuesday in connection with a Kansas criminal case in the death of a 10-year-old boy on what was promoted as the world’s largest water slide.

The prison records show that Jeffrey Henry, the 62-year-old co-owner of Schlitterbahn water Parks and Resorts, was booked in the jail in Cameron County, Texas, on the three charges: murder, aggravated battery and aggravated child in danger.

He was being held on a $500,000 bond, and a jail booking clerk said that he would remain there until a court appearance later Tuesday.

Henry’s arrest on Monday was followed by a Kansas grand jury indictment last week of the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas, and its former director of operations, Tyler Austin Miles, on 20 felony charges. The cost is a single count of involuntary manslaughter over the death of Caleb Schwab in 2016.

“While we as a family continue to grieve and heal Caleb’s passing, we wanted to again thank the community of Kansas City for the continuation of the prayers and support,” Caleb, the father, of Kansas Republican Rep. Scott Schwab, said in a statement Tuesday. “It is clear that the problems with Schlitterbahn go much further than Caleb incident, and we know that the attorney general will take appropriate measures in the interest of public safety.”

Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said that in view of last week’s indictment, the company is not surprised by Henry’s arrest. The company also promised to aggressively fight the criminal charges against Miles and the park, and respond to the allegations in the 47-page indictment “from point to point.”

“We are as a company and as a family will fight these accusations and am confident that once the facts are presented, it will be clear that what happened on the ride was an unforeseen accident,” she said in a statement via e-mail.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office did not immediately respond to phone calls and e-mails any further comment, information about Henry’s arrest, or information about what criminal charges he faces. The Kansas City Star reported that Henry was taken into custody by the U. S. marshals from Brownsville, Texas.

Prosapio said Schlitterbahn does not expect any changes of the Kansas City park season, which is set to open May 25 and run through Labor Day. The large slide — Verruckt, or German for “crazy” — is closed since Caleb died.

The boy was beheaded after the raft in which he was riding went off the air. The family reached settlements of nearly $20 million with Schlitterbahn and the various companies associated with the design and construction of the slide.

The two women who rode with Caleb had a serious injury and settled claims with Schlitterbahn for an undisclosed amount.

The indictment against the Miles and the park claims that Verruckt met little, if any, the industrial standards and the Miles delayed or prevented the necessary repairs, even after the drive braking system failed.

The indictment also said Henry involved in the design of the giant water slide, even though he had “no technical or engineering credentials” and that he “rushed timeline” for the construction.

Schlitterbahn last week said the complaint is “full of false information’, and the company also rejected the allegations that the Miles and the company withheld information from law enforcement officials. It is said that the assertion that Caleb’s death was to be expected “beyond the pale of speculation.”

Miles’ attorneys said in their own statement that they would like the opportunity to prove his innocence in court.

“Not only had He cycled the slide many times, but, as the State is aware, that he had planned his wife, to ride on the day of the accident,” the attorneys, Tom and Tricia Bath, said in the statement. “These are not the actions of someone who believed the driving to be dangerous.”


Associated Press writers David Warren and Terry Wallace in Dallas contributed to this report.


Follow John Hanna on Twitter:

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular