Schlitterbahn makes statement about allegations contained in indictment

Schlitterbahn says it will fight allegations made against it in an indictment last week in Wyandotte County. The case involves a 10-year-old boy who died in August 2016 while riding the Verruckt waterslide. (Wyandotte Daily file photo)

Schlitterbahn today issued a statement that says the company will fight allegations of involuntary manslaughter against the corporation and against its former director of operations.

An indictment was released last Friday in the case involving the death of a 10-year-old boy in August 2016 on the Verruckt ride at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas.

Former Schlitterbahn director of operations, Tyler Austin Miles, pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter. The indictment also charged Schlitterbahn as a corporation.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office is handling the case, after a 19-month investigation was conducted.

A Schlitterbahn spokeswoman released a statement today saying the indictment released last week was “full of false information.”

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.”

On Friday, the indictment listed injuries sustained by 13 other persons, including four other minors, while riding the Verruckt waterslide, according to a statement from the attorney general’s office.

The 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 last week alleged that the ride was never properly or fully designed to prevent rafts from going airborne.

The indictment alleged that the ride’s designers originally considered preventing children from riding the Verruckt, and planned at an age limit of 14, but then the age restriction was eliminated, allowing younger children to ride. The investigators looked into whether the weights of the passengers had an effect on whether the ride would go airborne, with apparently lighter weights more prone to launching into the air.

The indictment last week alleged that the hook-and-loop passenger restraints were not analyzed for their effectiveness in restraining passengers on a ride like the Verruckt, and that they were improper, defective and improperly maintained. The proper restraint would be rigid overhead shoulder bars with a locking lap restraint, according to language in the indictment.

Additionally, the placement of netting and support hoops above the ride path was defective and ultimately lethal, the indictment alleged.

Schlitterbahn’s attorneys will be answering the allegations point-by-point in the upcoming weeks and months, according to the company 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. “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 Schlitterbahn statement continued. “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. The secret Grand Jury never heard one word from us directly, nor were we allowed to provide contradictory evidence. And we have plenty,” the Schlitterbahn statement continued.

Tyler Miles’ attorneys, Tom and Tricia Bath, have released this statement:

“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.”

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

Former Schlitterbahn employee and corporation indicted in connection with waterslide death

A former Schlitterbahn employee has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with a waterslide death at the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas, in August 2016. (Wyandotte Daily file photo)

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.”

A Wyandotte County Jail listing showed a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the case.

An indictment was issued in connection with the death of a boy at the Schlitterbahn waterpark in 2016.

Verruckt water slide to open Thursday in KCK

Views of demonstrations of the new Verruckt water slide at the Schlitterbahn on Wednesday, July 9, in Kansas City, Kan. The new ride opens to the public on Thursday, July 10. (Photo by William Crum)

Jeff Henry, one of the owners of Schlitterbahn, designed the new Verruckt water slide. (Photo by William Crum)

by William Crum

It finally happened, the world’s largest waterslide called Verruckt, which means insane, will open tomorrow. After many months of testing the slide finally will be open.

Today, there was a preview of the slide and everyone who rode the slide said it was awesome, including Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Mark Holland.

“I’m a roller coaster fan and I thoroughly enjoyed the new waterslide,” Holland said. “It will take your breath away. I didn’t have any trouble going up the stairs, because I use the stairs whenever I can at the City Hall.”

Jeff Henry, one of the owners of Schlitterbahn, said, “When I designed this waterslide I wanted it to be the best waterslide that was ever made.”

Jamie Haggerty, who works for the Board of Public Utilities at the Muncie water plant, said it was amazing. “It will truly take your breath away,” he said. Jamie is a three-year veteran at the Muncie water station. He lives close and has watched the water slide being built.

“I cannot wait until it was done,” he said.

Another Wyandotte County resident, Philip Brown, who is an engineer at the water department, said it was awesome.

In the future, I, like a lot of residents in Wyandotte County plan to try the new waterslide myself.

Tomorrow will be the first day that the slide is open to the public. The lines for the ride will probably be long, so definitely go early. The park is at 94th and State Avenue in Kansas City, Kan.

On Wednesday, the Schlitterbahn website said it is a soft opening and the hours may vary. Another page on the Schlitterbahn website said the Verruckt plans to open around noon each day beginning Thursday, July 10. The park opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. in July. Admission price listed on the website starts at $36.99 for adults and $28.99 for children 3-11 years old. For more information on when the Schlitterbahn Waterpark will be open go to the website, www.schlitterbahn.com.

Mayor Mark Holland went on the world’s tallest slide today at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kan. He said, “It will take your breath away.” (Photo by William Crum)

Jamie Haggerty and Marie Townsend of the Board of Public Utilities tried out the new Verruckt water slide on Wednesday at Schlitterbahn. (Photo by William Crum)

Phil Brown, an engineer at the Board of Public Utilities, said the new Verruckt water slide was “awesome.” (Photo by William Crum)

Views of demonstrations of the new Verruckt water slide at the Schlitterbahn on Wednesday, July 9, in Kansas City, Kan. The new ride opens to the public on Thursday, July 10. (Photo by William Crum)

Views of demonstrations of the new Verruckt water slide at the Schlitterbahn on Wednesday, July 9, in Kansas City, Kan. The new ride opens to the public on Thursday, July 10. (Photo by William Crum)

Views of demonstrations of the new Verruckt water slide at the Schlitterbahn on Wednesday, July 9, in Kansas City, Kan. The new ride opens to the public on Thursday, July 10. (Photo by William Crum)

Views of demonstrations of the new Verruckt water slide at the Schlitterbahn on Wednesday, July 9, in Kansas City, Kan. The new ride opens to the public on Thursday, July 10. (Photo by William Crum)