Schlitterbahn releases statement on indictment of co-owner

Schlitterbahn has released a statement today on the indictment of co-owner Jeffrey W. Henry on charges of second-degree murder in connection with a death on the Verruckt waterslide in Kansas City, Kansas.

Henry was one of the ride’s designers. His indictment by a grand jury was released today by the Wyandotte County District Court.

The statement also is in connection with the indictments of ride designer John Timothy Schooley and the Henry and Sons Construction Company Inc.

Schlitterbahn is defending itself with statements on the indictments, and also with statements on its website that its rides are safe.

The Schlitterbahn statement today:

“This indictment, as in the previous one related to Tyler Miles, is wrought with references to the outtakes of a dramatic, scripted television show, and filled with information that we fully dispute. Jeff Henry has designed waterpark rides the world over. Nearly every waterpark that exists today has an attraction or feature based on his designs or ideas.

“The incident that happened that day was a terrible and tragic accident. We mourn the loss of this child and are devastated for his family. We know 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.”

An earlier Schlitterbahn statement, on March 23, concerned the indictment of the park’s operations director and the Schlitterbahn corporation:

“We were shocked by the allegations being made by the Kansas Attorney General about Tyler and our KC park. 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. Many of us, and our children and grandchildren, have ridden the ride with complete confidence as to its safety. Our operational mantra has been and will forever be Safety First.

“The accusation that we withheld information or altered evidence is completely false. We have operated with integrity from day one at the waterpark – as we do throughout our waterparks and resorts. We put our guests and employees safety first; and safety and maintenance are at the top of our list of priorities.

“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.
“Quotes were purported to be from definitive design meetings, when they were, in fact, ‘acting.’

“During the civil matter, attorneys involved noted that we cooperated fully, provided thousands of documents, and that nothing was withheld or tampered with.

“In fact, the indictment presented is so full of false information that it has shocked the Kansas legal community, as you can see in the statement from Tyler Miles’ attorneys below.

“Our legal team will be speaking out against each of the allegations point by point in the coming weeks and months. Rest assured, we stand behind our staff and all our parks. We will be fighting these charges aggressively. We know that Tyler is innocent and that we run a safe operation – our 40 years of entertaining millions of people speaks to that.

“We look forward to proving this in court where we know the facts will prove this was an accident.”

A statement provided by Tyler’s attorneys, Tom and Tricia Bath on March 23:
“The suggestions that C.S.’s death was foreseeable to Tyler Miles, that, with this knowledge Tyler ‘avoided or delayed repairs,’ and that Tyler ‘had covered up similar incidents’ are simply 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. These are not the actions of someone who believed the ride to be dangerous.

“The allegation that Tyler knowingly obstructed the investigation is, likewise, false. From the moment of the accident, and continuing until the charges were filed, Tyler cooperated with law enforcement. He did not hide or destroy documents.

“The Constitution requires that an Indictment be based upon legal evidence – not speculation or conjecture. This Indictment is based upon Grand Jury proceedings, which are conducted in secret. While neither we nor the public have had an opportunity to see transcripts of Grand Jury witness testimony, the Indictment is littered with references to evidence that is not legal.
“Only after Tyler is able to obtain transcripts, witness statements and police reports will he, like any citizen, be in a position to fully address these allegations. What we know is that Tyler is innocent, which is why he insisted, at his first court appearance, that we set the matter for jury trial. We look forward to the opportunity to challenge the evidence, in a public forum, and prove Tyler’s innocence.”

A Schlitterbahn statement on the second indictment:

“This indictment, as in the previous one related to Tyler Miles, is wrought with references to the outtakes of a dramatic, scripted television show, and filled with information that we fully dispute. Jeff Henry has designed waterpark rides the world over. Nearly every waterpark that exists today has an attraction or feature based on his designs or ideas.

“The incident that happened that day was a terrible and tragic accident. We mourn the loss of this child and are devastated for his family. We know 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.”

Questions and answers on safety

Schlitterbahn has also posted questions and answers on its website about safety issues, found at https://schlitterbahnnews.com/questions-and-answers-about-schlitterbahn-and-recent-allegations/.

According to Schlitterbahn, the park is safe and has won accolades for its safety, and the rides are inspected every day.

“Every project has a deadline, but the construction of the ride was delayed many times to allow for exhaustive testing and reconfiguration of the ride to maximize safety. We did not open it until it had been thoroughly tested,” Schlitterbahn stated in its question-and-answer section.

No evidence was withheld or tampered with, Schlitterbahn stated on its website.

Schlitterbahn co-owner charged with second-degree murder in KCK waterslide death

Schlitterbahn Waterpark co-owner Jeffrey W. Henry was arrested in connection with a waterslide death in August 2016 in Kansas City, Kansas, and an indictment of second-degree murder was filed in Wyandotte County District Court. Last week, the former Schlitterbahn operations director, Tyler Miles, was indicted along with the corporation on charges of involuntary manslaughter in connection with a death on the Verruckt waterslide.
(Wyandotte Daily file photo)

Jeffrey W. Henry, a co-owner of the Schlitterbahn Waterpark, has been arrested in Texas and a 46-page indictment for second-degree murder has been unsealed in Wyandotte County District Court in connection with an investigation into a death in August 2016 at the Kansas City, Kansas, waterpark.

Henry, besides being the co-owner, was one of the designers of the Verruckt waterslide here.

Also, the new indictment charges John Timothy Schooley, the lead designer of the Verruckt waterslide, and Henry and Sons Construction Company Inc. with second-degree murder. The second indictment was unsealed today by Judge Robert Burns.

Other counts listed by the indictment against Henry, Schooley and the Henry and Sons Construction included five counts of aggravated endangering a child, and 12 counts of aggravated battery, based on injuries sustained by persons who were riding the Verruckt waterslide.

Henry was arrested March 26 in South Padre Island, Texas, by the U.S. Marshals Service, according to a news release from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office. His next court appearance in Cameron County, Texas, District Court is scheduled for Thursday. Schooley is not in custody at this time.

The arrest and indictment follow on the heels of a grand jury indictment released on Friday of a former Schlitterbahn director of operations, Tyler Austin Miles, on charges of involuntary manslaughter. Miles pleaded not guilty. The indictment also charged Schlitterbahn as a corporation.

Besides involuntary manslaughter, Miles and the corporation 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.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office is handling the case, after a 19-month investigation was conducted. 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, according to a news release from the attorney general’s office. Charges contained in both indictments are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The Cameron County, Texas, inmate list on Monday showed Jeffrey Henry had been arrested on a Kansas warrant.

A Schlitterbahn spokeswoman released this statement Monday about developments: “Considering the allegations from Friday’s indictment, we were not surprised at the actions taken by the Attorney General to charge Jeff Henry. We as a company and as a family will fight these allegations and have confidence that once the facts are presented it will be clear that what happened on the ride was an unforeseeable accident.”

The Schlitterbahn statement said on Monday that the indictment released last week against Miles and the Schlitterbahn corporation was “full of false information.” The indictment document against Henry was made public on Tuesday.

The Schlitterbahn statement also said, “We were shocked by the allegations being made by the Attorney General about Tyler and our KC park. 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. Many of us, and our children and grandchildren, have ridden the ride with complete confidence as to its safety. Our operational mantra has been and will forever be Safety First.”

The Schlitterbahn statement continued, “Our legal team will be speaking out against each of the allegations point by point in the coming weeks and months. Rest assured, we stand behind our staff and all our parks. We will be fighting these charges aggressively. We know that Tyler is innocent and that we run a safe operation – our 40 years of entertaining millions of people speaks to that.

“We look forward to proving this in court where we know the facts will prove this was an accident.”

A Wyandotte County grand jury looked into the death of a 10-year-old boy, the son of a state legislator, who was riding the Verruckt waterslide and died after his raft went airborne, hitting a pole with nets attached. The boy was decapitatated.

The waterslide at the time was called the tallest in the world. Since the incident, the waterslide has been shut down.

The indictment released Friday against Miles is online at https://www.wycocourtks.org/cases.html.

Schlitterbahn’s attorneys will be answering the allegations point-by-point in the upcoming weeks and months, according to the spokeswoman.

Last week’s indictment also alleged that the former operations director and the Schlitterbahn Waterpark were concealing evidence from authorities.

“The accusation that we withheld information or altered evidence is completely false,” Schlitterbahn said in a statement.

A statement by Tyler Miles’ attorneys, Tom and Tricia Bath, denied that information was withheld. The statement is online at http://wyandottedaily.com/schlitterbahn-makes-statement-about-allegations-contained-in-indictment/.

The indictment against Henry, Schooley and Henry and Sons Construction is online at https://www.wycocourtks.org/uploads/4/4/1/2/4412070/indictment.pdf.

A Texas jail log detailed the booking of a Schlitterbahn co-owner in connection with a waterslide death in August 2016 in Kansas City, Kansas. Jeffrey W. Henry was charged with second-degree murder, aggravated endangering a child and aggravated battery in connection with the death on the waterslide and other injuries on the slide.

Statement released by family of 10-year-old who died on waterslide

The family of Caleb Schwab, a 10-year-old who died on the Schlitterbahn waterslide in August 2016 in Kansas City, Kansas, has released a statement concerning the recent indictment that was filed against Schlitterbahn and its former operations manager.

Caleb Schwab’s father is a state legislator in Olathe, Kansas. The statement was released from the family’s attorneys’ office:

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