World’s Tallest Waterslide to be Dismantled After 10-Year Old Boy Died in Horrific Accident

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A water park in Kansas says it will remove the giant waterslide where a 10-year-old boy was decapitated in 2016. Deconstruction of the Verruckt slide at the Schlitterbahn water park will take about three weeks.

10-year-old Caleb Schwab died in August 2016 when the raft he was riding in went airborne, struck a metal support for netting on the slide, and killed him. Two others in the raft were severely injured.

“It was a horrible tragedy. … We feel it’s the right thing to do,” said Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio.

The 168-foot, 17-story high Verruckt (German for “insane”) is the tallest water slide in the world, according to Guinness World Records. The slide’s two designers, John Schooley and Jeffrey Henry, are among the five defendants who have been charged with aggravated battery and aggravated child endangerment related to the incident. The other defendants in the state’s case against the park are Henry and Sons Construction, the contractor owned by Jeffrey Henry’s family; Tyler Miles, former director of operations; and the park itself.

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Caleb Thomas Schwab. Credit: David Strickland/AP

The boy’s family announced in January 2017 that they had reached a settlement with the park’s owners and raft’s manufacturer. But criminal charges filed by the Kansas attorney general’s office still are pending that accuse the water park, its owners and others of creating a ride that ignored safety standards — and of hiding evidence or injuries caused on the ride prior to Caleb’s death.

Miles and Schlitterbahn have been indicted on involuntary manslaughter, while the designers and contractor are facing charges of second-degree murder. The indictment alleges that a team of experts inspected the ride after Caleb’s death and found “physical evidence that indicated that other rafts had gone airborne and collided with the overhead hoops and netting before the fatality.”

It says the experts found several violations of standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Miles has disputed the claims.

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