A grand jury in Wyandotte County, Kansas, has unsealed an indictment against waterpark operator Schlitterbahn and manager Tyler Austin Miles over the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab in 2016. Schwab’s tragic death resulted in the closure of the dangerous Verrückt slide and an investigation that has now culminated in charges of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated battery, and reckless endangerment of a child.
The case revolves around the Verrückt water slide at the Schlitterbahn Vacation Village in Kansas City. Once heralded as the “world’s tallest water slide,” the indictment reveals that the 169-foot ride was a poorly designed death trap. The grand jury determined that company management ignored safety standards and warnings from experienced engineers when they built the tower that sent hapless riders shooting down a hill at almost 70 miles per hour. Worse, Schlitterbahn opened the slide before it was complete in hopes of getting on the Travel Channel’s Xtreme Waterparks show. Then, they covered up numerous injuries in the two years that followed! The indictment concludes that Schlitterbahn showed an obvious and extreme disregard for human life.
Verrückt stayed open until Caleb Schwab’s death in 2016. The young boy’s raft went airborne and he collided with the dangerous metal brace and netting that covered the chute, resulting in his death. The netting might have looked like a safety precaution to trusting visitors but, in fact, the braces were defective and ultimately lethal. Two other riders were brutally injured during the collision.
Hopefully, Schlitterbahn’s management will now face the consequences for their callous actions. If convicted, manager Tyler Austin Miles and any other company executives indicted in the proceedings could face a prison sentence and a $300,000 fine. Fingers crossed.
Unsurprisingly, Verrückt is now scheduled for demolition. The massive slide demonstrates that greed and the reckless pursuit of fame on reality television has horrible consequences. Check out the Kansas City Star’s coverage for more details.