The Kansas water park owner who helped design the waterslide that decapitated a 10-year-old boy in 2016 has “no technical or engineering skills,” according to a new lawsuit.
Jeffrey Henry, co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, “lacked the expertise to properly design” Verrückt, the waterslide that killed Caleb Schwab on Aug. 7, 2016, contends a lawsuit brought by the state of Kansas against the water park and its former director of operations Tyler Miles.
The complaint, filed Wednesday at Wyandotte County District Court in Kansas City, also accuses John Schooley, the lead designer of Verrückt, of having “no engineering credentials relevant to amusement ride design or safety.”
Verrückt’s design “violated nearly all aspects of … longstanding industry safety standards,” amusement ride design and safety experts found, according to the lawsuit.
“Due to Henry and Schooley’s lack of expertise and a desire to rush the timeline, they skipped fundamental steps in the design process,” the lawsuit contends. “In place of mathematical and physics calculations, they rushed forward relying almost entirely on crude trial-and-error methods.”
Both the water park and Miles, who was responsible for the park’s day-to-day ride operations and first aid, were indicted Wednesday on dozens of charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery. Miles pleaded not guilty to the charges on Friday.
Winter Prosapio, a spokeswoman for Schlitterbahn, told HuffPost that the company planned to “fight the charges.”
“Since the date of the incident we have worked closely with law enforcement; at no time have we withheld evidence; at no time have we altered evidence,” Prosapio said in a statement emailed to HuffPost on Sunday.
“The safety of our Schlitterbahn guests and employees has been at the forefront of our culture throughout our 40 years of operations. Many of us rode Verruckt regularly, as did our children and grandchildren. We have faith in the justice system and are confident that when we finally have an opportunity to defend ourselves, it will be clear that this was an accident.”
Video shows Caleb had been “obeying all rider instructions” at the time of his death, which occurred when the raft he was riding “went airborne and collided with the overhead hoops and netting,” causing a fatal neck injury, state prosecutors said in the lawsuit.
Verrückt opened in 2014 and was reportedly the largest active waterslide in the world at over 168 feet high. Two adult women who had been riding with Caleb sustained broken bones during the incident.
Caleb’s family and the two injured women have already agreed to separate out-of-court financial settlements regarding the matter.
Before the child’s death, at least 10 other Schlitterbahn customers suffered injuries while riding Verrückt, including broken toes and concussions, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday.
Although several other states rejected proposals to build Verrückt, lax amusement ride regulations in Kansas permitted its construction at the Schlitterbahn water park, reported local Fox affiliate WDAF-TV.
Read the state of Kansas’s full complaint against Miles and the Schlitterbahn Waterpark below.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said the waterslide was demolished in November 2016. The ride is still standing but now closed.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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