Co-Owner Of Water Park Charged With Murder Of Boy Who Was Decapitated On World’s Largest Slide

April 3, 2018
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He was suffering from drug problems and financial woes before the 10-year-old’s death

The co-owner of a water park where a 10-year-old boy was decapitated was reportedly suffering from drug problems and financial woes before the accident.

Jeffrey Steven Henry, co-owner of the Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts park in Kansas City, has been arrested twice for drug violations.

He was arrested once in 1994 and once in 2007.

In the first arrest, he and his then-wife Mary Henry, were caught possessing 17 ounces of pot, a revolver, a derringer and more than $7,000 in cash, according to divorce court records, obtained by the San Antonio Express- News.

Henry reportedly pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony and was sentenced to 3 years deferred adjudication probation- which was terminated after 16 months and fined $10,000.

After his second arrest, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for possessing between 2 and 4 ounces of marijuana and was fined $4,000.

He also had financial woes.

According to the Express-News, a feud between Jeff and Gary Henry and their business partner Schexnailder over a new development ultimately led last spring to the group’s bankruptcy filing.

The potential expansion to North Padre Island led to Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings since last year and the development on the auction block.

Now Henry and John Schooley are charged with reckless second-degree murder in the August 2016 death of Caleb Schwab, who was decapitated when his raft went airborne on the world’s largest water slide.

Last week, a grand jury also indicted the park and its former chief operations officer, Tyler Austin Miles, on 20 felony charges, including involuntary manslaughter.

Henry & Sons Construction Co, which is described as the private construction company of Schlitterbahn, has been charged with reckless second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 9 years to 41 years in prison.

Schlitterbahn itself faces a number of other charges in connection to the 13 other people who were injured while riding the slide, which has since been shut down.

Miles’ attorney said that he was released on $50,000 bond.

Henry – who has also been charged with aggravated battery and child endangerment – was ordered held without bond and prosecutors say Schooley is not in custody.

Kansas said that it will conduct a full audit of the inspection records at Schlitterbahn before its annual season opens on May 25.

Kansas Department of Labor spokeswoman Barbara Hersh said the park is required to have qualified inspectors examine its rides on a daily basis and to keep reports on those inspections. She said the department will ensure that the inspections have been done.

Schlitterbahn described Caleb’s death as a ‘terrible and tragic accident’ in a statement.

It says that Henry, Schooley and Miles are ‘innocent’ and that the company runs a ‘safe operation.’

Caleb died when his raft went airborne and he hit an overhead loop.

It recently emerged that employees at the attraction had warned executives about the water slide’s faulty brakes that failed at least 29 times.

Footage also emerged of Henry saying the 170-foot Verrückta that took the life of Schwab, was the ‘safest ever ride built’.

In a 2014 interview with Good Morning America, the interviewer asked Henry on the ride’s opening day, ‘So you’re saying it is safe?,’ while speaking of the world’s tallest slide constructed at his park.   

An engineering firm was also hired to test the slide’s safety just a week before its grand opening.

The tests indicated that, when carrying a weight of 400 to 550lbs, the rafts on the slide were likely to go airborne.

This was especially dangerous as the slide was covered with a net suspended by metal hoops, which meant that riders could knock into them if the raft went airborne.

The indictment notes that this is in violation of international standards that prohibit a ride from obstructing a rider’s path. It described the attraction as ‘a deadly weapon’.

‘Henry and Schooley did the opposite,‘ the indictment states. ‘They installed metal bars directly across the known flight path.’

‘The presence of the overheard netting and support hoops speaks volumes about the designers’ extreme disregard for the value of human life.’

Schwab was tragically decapitated when his raft collided with the hoops, and two women he was riding with suffered bone fractures and lacerations.

The indictment claims that Henry was well aware of this problem and tried to fix it before eventually ignoring it entirely.

 

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