March 29, 2018 09:33 AM

The father of 10-year-old Kansas boy Caleb Schwab, who was decapitated two years ago while riding the world’s tallest waterslide, says his family supports recent charges in the case.

“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 father, Kansas state Rep. Scott Schwab, said in a statement to PEOPLE.

Caleb was killed on Aug. 7, 2016, when the raft he was riding down the 17-story Verrückt waterslide went airborne and collided with the overhead netting and metal hoops, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

Caleb was with his family at the park during an event for elected officials.

The Verrückt (German for “crazy” or “insane”), at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas, was named the world’s tallest waterslide by Guinness World Records in 2014, not long after it opened.

Rafts riding down it allegedly hit speeds of up to 70 mph.

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

Last week, Schlitterbahn as well as the park’s former director of operations Tyler Austin Miles were indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter. In addition, Miles was indicted on two counts of interference with law enforcement.

Schlitterbahn — which, like Miles, has strongly denied wrongdoing — was also charged with one count of interference with law enforcement.

An indictment unsealed on Tuesday showed that more individuals have been charged in Caleb’s death.

A Wyandotte County grand jury indicted the following on counts of reckless second-degree murder: Jeffrey Wayne Henry, a co-owner of Schlitterbahn Companies and a designer of the waterslide; John Timothy Schooley, also a designer of the slide; and Henry & Sons Construction Company, Inc., the corporation involved in the slide’s construction.

The three defendants were 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 Verrückt.

In his statement after Miles and Schlitterbahn were indicted, Caleb’s father said that “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.”

Schlitterbahn has described Caleb’s death as “an unforeseeable accident,” but the latest indictment alleges 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, Henry, a high school drop-out, allegedly rushed the Verrückt into operation and “skipped fundamental steps in the design process,” the indictment states.

The Verrückt waterslide
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

“Experts in the field of amusement ride design and safety examined Verrückt and found physical evidence which indicated that other rafts had gone airborne and collided with the overhead hoops and netting before the fatality,” according to the indictment.

These experts also noted that the raft “violated nearly all aspects of the longstanding industry safety standards,” the indictment states.

“Clearly the issues with Schlitterbahn go far beyond Caleb’s incident,” Scott Schwab said in his statement, “and we know the Attorney General will take appropriate steps in the interest of public safety.”

A representative for the family said they would not be releasing further statements or giving interviews.

• 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.

Scott has previously spoken out in support of 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.”

According to the Associated Press, Caleb’s family reached a nearly $20 million settlement with Schlitterbahn and affiliated companies.

Tyler Austin Miles
Jeffrey Wayne Henry
Cameron County Jail

The Accused Respond

Henry was arrested Monday in Texas and his next court date is scheduled for Thursday. Schooley is not in custody.

Winter D. Prosapio, a spokeswoman for Schlitterbahn, told PEOPLE in a statement earlier this week that the company was “shocked” by the allegations against Miles, who has since pleaded not guilty, and the Kansas City park itself.

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

Miles’ attorneys, Tom and Tricia Bath, also argued that law enforcement’s assertion that Caleb’s death was “foreseeable” to him was not true.

“Not only had Tyler ridden the slide numerous times, but, as the State is aware, he had scheduled his wife to ride it on the day of the accident,” the Baths said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

The waterpark company did not return a request for comment about the latest indictment.

It is unclear if the additional indicted parties had pleaded to their charges, and their attorneys could not be reached. Schooley’s wife declined to comment. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

You May Like

EDIT POST