Agents arrest designer of Kansas water slide that killed boy
DALLAS (AP) — One of the designers of a massive Kansas water park slide that decapitated a 10-year-old boy has been arrested in Texas, federal authorities said Tuesday.
Trent Touchstone, chief deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service in Dallas, said 72-year-old John Timothy Schooley was met by agents at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport as he arrived Monday on a flight from China.
Schooley was being held without bond at the Dallas County jail after being arraigned on charges that include second-degree murder, according to Dallas County sheriff’s spokesman Raul Reyna. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Wednesday and Schooley likely will be transported to Kansas next week, Reyna said. A Kansas conviction for second-degree murder carries a penalty of 9 to 41 years in prison.
A Houston attorney for Schooley, Kit Yam, didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
A Kansas grand jury last week indicted Schooley and Jeffrey Henry , a co-owner of Texas-based Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts. The indictment accuses Henry of making a “spur of the moment” decision to build the Verruckt ride — touted as the world’s tallest water slide — and that he and Schooley lacked technical or engineering expertise in amusement park rides. A former operations director for Schlitterbahn also has been charged.
Caleb Schwab was killed on the 17-story Verruckt in 2016 when the raft he was riding went airborne and hit an overhead loop.
Schooley and Henry, 62, also were charged with 17 other felonies, including aggravated battery and aggravated endangerment of a child counts tied to injuries that other riders sustained on the giant slide.
Henry was arrested last week in South Texas and Cameron County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Gus Reyna Jr. said he was extradited to Kansas on Tuesday. An attorney in Texas for Henry didn’t immediately reply to phone messages seeking comment.
Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said in a statement last week that the indictment “is filled with information that we fully dispute.” She didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking fresh comment early Tuesday.
The indictment alleges the ride violated “nearly all aspects” of longstanding standards established by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
“In fact, the design and operation of the Verruckt complied with few, if any, of the industry safety standard,” the indictment said.
AP writer Heather Hollingsworth contributed to this report from Kansas City, Missouri.