After 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was decapitated while riding the Verruckt water slide at the Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kansas back in 2016, a sentence has been laid on the corporation responsible.
On Friday, the corporation and the park's former manager Tyler Miles were indicted by a Kansas grand jury for involuntary manslaughter, aggravated battery and reckless endangerment of a child.
The most alarming fact in the 47-page indictment was the revelation that John Schooley, who designed the Verruckt with the intention of making it the tallest water slide in the world, was completely unqualified for the position.
"[Schooley] possessed no engineering credential relevant to amusement ride design or safety," the indictment read.
According to the Kansas City Star, the indictment went on to accuse the company leaders of not following safety standards, ignored warning about the ride's safety, failed to keep it properly maintained once built and went so far as to cover up evidence of other riders suffering injuries prior to Schwab's death.
Schwab, son of Kansas state representative Scott Schwab, died when his raft went airborne while on the ride. He was decapitated by a metal hoop that surrounded the netting that sits about the slide.
"This child's death and the rapidly growing list of injuries were foreseeable and expected outcomes," the indictment read. "Verruckt's designers and operators knew that Verruckt posed a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death or severe bodily harm."
The indictment went on to say that Miles as well as other higher-ups at the company allegedly knew the slide had a design flaw in that rafts on the 17-story slide would potentially send the multi-person rafts airborne once they picked up enough speed.
The KC Star reports that the indictment gathered company emails, blueprints, interviews, and eyewitness statements to prove that the construction of Verruckt was a "spur-of-the-moment" move to try and get the attention of television shows, namely the Xtreme Waterparks series on the Travel Channel.1comments
Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio wrote in a statement that safety has always been the company's top priority.
"Our staff, since we opened Schlitterbahn Kansas City, has demonstrated the highest dedication to safety, from the training of our lifeguards and ride operators, to ensuring all rides have operated in accordance with our strict protocols," she said in an email statement. "Our team has been conscientious and committed to providing visitors to the water park a safe and enjoyable experience. We are shocked by any allegations of impropriety or negligence on the part of anyone associated with Verruckt."