A Wyandotte County grand jury has indicted one person and one corporation on charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of a 10-year-old boy in August 2016 who was riding the Verruckt waterslide at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas, according to a statement from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.
The indictment includes charges of involuntary manslaughter against Schlitterbahn Waterpark of Kansas City, Kansas, and against Tyler Austin Miles, a former director of operations at the waterpark.
A 10-year-old boy who was the son of a state legislator died when he was riding a raft on the Verruckt waterslide in 2016. As his raft went into the air, it struck a pole with nets attached to it, and the boy was decapitated.
The waterslide at the time was called the tallest in the world. Since the incident, the waterslide has been shut down.
The two defendants also were indicted in connection with injuries sustained by 13 other persons, including four other minors, while riding the waterslide, according to the attorney general’s statement.
Those charges include aggravated battery and aggravated endangering a child. In addition, Miles was indicted on two counts of interference with law enforcement, and Schlitterbahn was indicted on one count of interference with law enforcement.
The indictment was unsealed today by Judge Robert Burns in Wyandotte County District Court.
Miles turned himself in to the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office this morning. At a first appearance this afternoon, the defense waived formal reading of the indictment and entered a plea of not guilty. The defense filed a motion to reduce bond which was argued and denied.
Bond has been set at $50,000 cash or professional surety. A jury trial date has been set for 9 a.m. Sept. 10. A status conference has been set for 2 p.m. April 25.
The charges will be prosecuted by the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, which assumed responsibility for the case in December 2016 at the request of the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office.
Charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty, according to the attorney general’s office. The attorney general’s office is bound by the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 3.6 (trial publicity) and Rule 3.8 (special responsibilities of a prosecutor), according to their statement.
Attorney General Schmidt said the indictment follows a 19-month investigation involving numerous law enforcement agencies including the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Kansas Attorney General’s Office and Comal County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office.
Schlitterbahn’s corporate offices released an updated statement today, from spokeswoman Winter Prosapio, after they had a chance to review the official indictment document:
“We’ve reviewed the indictment against Schlitterbahn Kansas City and Tyler Miles and we plan on contesting the allegations. 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. The indictment uses quoted statements from a reality TV show that was scripted for dramatic effect that in no way reflects the design and construction of the ride.
“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. We stand by our team and will fight these charges.”