August 07, 2018 08:31 PM

Tuesday marks the second anniversary of the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab, the son of a state lawmaker who was decapitated while riding what was then the world’s tallest waterslide, the 17-story Verrückt (German for “crazy” or “insane”) in Kansas City, Kansas.

Caleb and his family were at the Schlitterbahn waterpark on Aug. 7, 2016, attending an event for elected officials when he flew out of his raft while going down the 168-foot-tall slide. He fatally collided with the overhead netting and metal hoops, according to court documents previously obtained by PEOPLE.

His parents, mom Michelle and dad Scott, a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, have largely stayed quiet about the incident since speaking with Good Morning America in 2017.

Scott voiced support for a proposed law in Kansas — which has since passed — that would strengthen government oversight of amusement rides.

“This bill is really not about Caleb,” he said last year, according to the Kansas City Star. “It’s for the next kid who goes someplace in Kansas for a fun weekend.”

RELATED: After Caleb’s Decapitation, Why Were Ride Designers Charged with Murder?

Caleb Schwab
David Strickland via AP
The Verrückt
Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star via AP

Trial Is Pending for Those Accused in Decapitation

Criminal charges were filed in Caleb’s death in March and the Verrückt, which never reopened, is waiting to be taken down.

In July, the park, which is still in operation, announced on Facebook that a court had approved its request to demolish the slide.

Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio tells PEOPLE it was decommissioned in November 2016 and will be torn down sometime after Labor Day, though she was not more specific.

In March, two companies and three individuals — including the park itself — were indicted on various criminal counts in the decapitation.

Schlitterbahn is accused of involuntary manslaughter and Henry & Sons Construction Company, Inc., which built the slide, is accused of reckless second-degree murder.

RELATED: ‘We Had an Emotional Meltdown’ Says Woman at the Scene of Caleb’s Death

(According to local TV station KSHB, prosecutors later told the court they had intended instead to seek an indictment against KC Water Park Management Company, which owns and operates Schiltterbahn. They will reportedly have to reconvene the grand jury to obtain a corrected indictment.)

Tyler Austin Miles, the park’s former director of operations, was also indicted for involuntary manslaughter.

Jeffrey Wayne Henry, a co-owner of Schlitterbahn Companies and a designer of the slide, and John Timothy Schooley, also a Verrückt designer, were charged with reckless second-degree murder.

Tyler Austin Miles
John Timothy Schooley
Dallas County Sheriff's Department

Henry, Schooley and Henry & Sons were each additionally indicted on counts of aggravated battery and aggravated endangering a child in connection with 13 other people who authorities say were injured while riding the ride before Caleb was killed.

In addition to the involuntary manslaughter charge, Miles, the operations director, was indicted on two counts of interference with law enforcement. Schlitterbahn — who, like the others, has strongly denied wrongdoing — was also charged with one count of interference with law enforcement.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Caleb’s death was initially thought of as an “isolated and unforeseeable incident” until whistleblowers from Schlitterbahn gave evidence indicating that park officials had allegedly covered up as many as 13 incidents in the past, according to a previous PEOPLE report.

All of the accused have pleaded not guilty.

Their trial, previously set for September, has been reportedly delayed and a new court date was not immediately clear.

Two maintenance workers at the park, David Hughes and John Zalsman, were charged with misleading investigators. They have also pleaded not guilty.

Jeffrey Wayne Henry
Cameron County Jail

‘Long List of Dangerous Design Flaws’

While park officials described Caleb’s death as an “unforeseeable accident,” one of the indictments in the case alleged that Schlitterbahn was well aware of the dangers of the Verrückt — which was named the world’s tallest waterslide by Guinness World Records in 2014 — and opened it despite expert warnings.

In the second indictment, authorities alleged that the slide’s rafts had problems from the beginning and suffered from a “long list of dangerous design flaws,” including that they traveled too fast and repeatedly went airborne.

Despite this, park co-owner Henry, a high school drop-out, allegedly rushed the Verrückt into operation and “skipped fundamental steps in the design process,” the indictment stated.

Experts also commented that the raft “violated nearly all aspects of the longstanding industry safety standards,” according to the indictment.

RELATED: Woman Riding in Raft with Caleb Speaks Out

In response to the allegations, defense attorneys in the case told PEOPLE that safety was their clients’ top priority.

Winter Prosapio, the spokeswoman for Schlitterbahn, said earlier this year that “the allegation that we operated, and failed to maintain, a ride that could foreseeably cause such a tragic accident is beyond the pale of speculation.”

“Many of us, and our children and grandchildren, have ridden the ride with complete confidence as to its safety,” Prosapio said in a statement.

From left: Scott and Michelle Schwab

‘We’re Thankful and We’re Still Hurting’

Following news of the indictments in the spring, Caleb’s family released a statement of their own thanking the community for its support.

“While we have no control over the investigation, we have full faith and trust in Attorney General Derek Schmidt and his office as relates to last week’s indictments, as well as any other decisions that office may make going forward,” Scott Schwab said in a statement in March.

“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.”

According to the Associated Press, the family previously reached a nearly $20 million settlement with Schlitterbahn and affiliated companies. The money will reportedly go to Caleb’s three brothers, who were also at the park that day.

Speaking on GMA last year, Caleb’s father expressed his family’s gratitude at the solace they received:

“We have a box of greeting cards from around the world and we just want people to know that we’re thankful and we’re still hurting, but we’re going to be okay.”


You May Like