» Kansas Waterpark Owner, Others Face Murder Charges in Boy’s Waterslide Death

Kansas Waterpark Owner, Others Face Murder Charges in Boy’s Waterslide Death

Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) June 25, 2018 – A waterpark co-owner and the designer of the world’s tallest waterslide were charged with reckless second-degree murder after a 10-year-old boy died on the ride.

A Kansas grand jury indicted the park, the company that constructed the waterslide, the former head of park operations, the ride’s co-designer and the waterpark’s co-owner. Henry & Sons Construction Co. built the giant waterslide at Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts in Kansas City, Kansas. It opened in July 2014, just 20 months from its conception.

“When companies choose to ignore basic safety measures and design standards, it can have tragic consequences,” said Paul Greenberg, a personal injury attorney with the Chicago firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, who is not involved in the case. “Based on the indictment, it appears that Schlitterbahn Waterparks and those responsible for the slide were deliberate in their failure to exercise due care in the construction and operation of the ride.”

Waterpark co-owner Jeffrey Wayne Henry and waterslide co-designer John Timothy Schooley could face between nine to 41 years in prison if convicted of murder. They were also charged with aggravated endangerment of a child and aggravated battery, which are among 17 felony counts leveled against them.

Investigators said Henry knew about the potential dangers of the nearly 170-foot-tall waterslide before it opened to the public, calling it a “seriously dangerous piece of equipment.” The indictment alleged Henry and Schooley lacked the engineering expertise required for designing such a complex amusement park ride.

The boy was decapitated after being tossed off a waterslide raft in August 2016. The ride closed after his death. However, at least 13 other riders were injured while it was in operation.

Former waterpark operations director Tyler Austin Miles faces 20 criminal charges including aggravated battery, aggravated endangering of a child and involuntary manslaughter. Authorities said the company ignored “fundamental steps in the design process” and rushed to construct the ride without proper testing in an effort to impress television producers. The slide was featured in an episode of a Travel Channel show.

The indictment charged that the company and individuals involved with the slide failed to meet basic engineering standards and ignored obvious design flaws that could hurt or kill riders by sending them airborne. In addition, Schlitterbahn opened the waterslide to riders of all ages despite weight limit concerns.

The boy’s family received a $20 million settlement in 2017 from the waterpark and other companies involved in the construction of the slide. Two other women who rode in the same raft as the boy were also awarded settlements after they suffered serious injuries. A state agency plans to review Schlitterbahn’s daily inspection records before its scheduled reopening in May.

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