Crime

Schlitterbahn's Verruckt designer John Schooley arrested in Dallas

Verruckt designers talk about challenges of water slide in 2014

Just before the Verruckt water slide began operating in July 2014, its designers, John Schooley (left) and Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry, spoke about the challenges of opening the 17-story tall attraction.
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Just before the Verruckt water slide began operating in July 2014, its designers, John Schooley (left) and Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry, spoke about the challenges of opening the 17-story tall attraction.

John Schooley, the designer of Schlitterbahn's Verruckt water slide, was being held in the Dallas County jail Tuesday morning after authorities arrested him the night before.

John Schooley mug.JPG
John Schooley Submitted

Schooley was taken into custody at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Monday evening by U.S. marshals after arriving on a flight from China. He is being held without bond and is expected to be taken to Kansas for a first appearance before a Wyandotte County judge.

The 72-year-old Schooley from New Braunfels, Texas, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab, who died riding Verruckt in Kansas City, Kan., in 2016.

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Caleb Schwab

Schooley had been working on a project in Asia when a grand jury handed down indictments against five defendants.

The Kansas Attorney General late last month unsealed an indictment that also charged Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry with second-degree murder. Henry and Schooley also were charged with aggravated endangerment of a child and aggravated battery.

Henry was arrested last week at his home in Cameron County, Texas, and has since been held in custody. He is due before a Wyandotte County judge for his first appearance on Thursday afternoon.

Tyler Miles, director of operations for the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kan., was also arrested in March and charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated battery and aggravated endangerment of a child. Miles is accused of interfering with law enforcement by allegedly not turning over documents to investigators and coaching Schlitterbahn employees to alter statements in accident reports.

Also charged is Henry & Son's Construction Co., a contractor controlled by Henry, and the Schlitterbahn corporation in Kansas.

The company denies the allegations in the indictment. It said company employees have not withheld evidence and maintains that the park prioritizes the safety of its guests.

"We will be fighting these charges aggressively," said Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio in a statement. "The incident that happened that day was a terrible and tragic accident. We mourn the loss of Caleb and are devastated for his family. We reiterate that Tyler, Jeff and John are innocent and that we run a safe operation – our 40 years of entertaining millions of people speaks to that. We are confident that their innocence will be proven in court where we know the facts will show this was an accident."

The company has published a rebuttal to the indictment's central claims on its news page.

It says the company trains its employees for safety, that rides are inspected and that the charges against the company and its executives were brought by a grand jury, which hears only from a prosecutor and evidence and witnesses are not cross examined by defense counsel.

Here's a look back at Verrückt and the series of events following 10-year-old Caleb Schwab's death on the water slide in 2016 at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City, Kan.

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