A water park company’s co-owner was arrested Monday in Texas in connection with a Kansas criminal case arising from a 10-year-old boy’s death on what was promoted as the world’s largest waterslide.
Records show that Jeffery Henry, co-owner of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, was booked into the jail in Cameron County, Texas.
He was being held without bond, and a jail booking clerk said he would remain there until a court appearance Tuesday.
Henry’s arrest follows a Kansas grand jury’s indictment last week of the Schlitterbahn park in Kansas City, Kansas, and its former operations director, Tyler Austin Miles, on 20 felony charges.
He and the park were also charged with several counts of aggravated battery, aggravated endangering a child and interference with law enforcement.
Schlitterbhan spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said in a statement that considering last week’s indictment, the company is not surprised by Henry’s arrest.
Caleb was decapitated while riding on the Verruckt slide in the Kansas City park.
The indictment alleges that the ride met few, if any, industry standards and that Miles delayed or avoided necessary repairs.
The nearly 170-foot slide was reportedly built hastily in order to earn the title of the ‘world’s largest waterslide’, so serious safety violations and red flags were ignored.
Verruckt, which is a German word for ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’, has been closed since the boy’s death.
Investigators say that company knew the ride was unsafe even before Caleb’s death.
There are allegations that other riders suffered from several injuries, such as neck pain and concussions, but the slide remained open anyway.
Officials say the company even hid these reports about the other injuries in order to keep the ride open.
Since the ride’s grand opening on July 10, 2014, to Caleb’s death on Aug. 7, 2016, 13 people were injured largely because the rafts went airborne, according to the 47-page indictment.
When the rafts went airborne, the people would hit the large metal netting that enclosed the slide, which would cause injury.
The raft Caleb rode on that fateful day went airborne at some point during the ride, and Caleb’s body struck a metal pole that was in place to support a netting system installed to keep riders from flying off the slide.
KCK Police described his death as resulting from a ‘fatal neck injury.’
‘The presence of the overhead netting and support hoops speaks volumes about the designers’ extreme disregard for the value of human life,’ the indictment said.
It claims that the netting violates standards put in place for these rides because it obstructs the riders’ path.
Henry reportedly pushed for the slide to be finished in seven months and made comments that he knew it would be dangerous.
‘(Verruckt) could hurt me, it could kill me, it is a seriously dangerous piece of equipment today because there are things that we don’t know about it,’ Henry said, according to the indictment.
Henry faces 12 counts of aggravated battery and five counts of aggravated child endangerment.