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Designer of Schlitterbahn water slide arrested in DFW Airport

Posted: 6:32 AM, Apr 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-03 07:32:21-04

The designer of Schlitterbahn’s "Verruckt" water slide was taken into custody at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Monday night.

Designer John Schooley, who was arriving on a flight from China, is accused of shoddy planning of the world’s tallest waterslide.

The water park company’s co-owner, Jeffrey Henry, is accused of rushing construction on that slide, and was arrested in Brownsville last week.

Both were recently charged with reckless second-degree murder in the decapitation of a 10-year-old boy on the ride in 2016. Caleb Schwab died on the 17-story ride when the raft he was riding went airborne and hit an overhead loop.

The Verruckt slide has been closed since Caleb died.

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

They also were charged with 17 other felonies, including aggravated battery and aggravated endangerment of a child counts tied to injuries other riders sustained on the giant slide, called Verruckt, which is German for "insane."

An indictment said Schooley was responsible for doing "the math" that went into the slide’s design and signed an operations manual claiming the ride met all American Society for Testing and Materials standards. But the indictment lists a dozen instances in which the design violated those standards and says investigators could find no evidence that so-called dynamic engineering calculations were made to determine the physics a passenger would experience. The indictment said Schooley lacked the technical expertise to properly design a complex amusement ride such as Verruckt.

The indictment also said Schooley admitted, "If we actually knew how to do this, and it could be done that easily, it wouldn’t be that spectacular."

Schooley will be held in North Texas until an arraignment to Kansas.

The company also operates water parks here in Corpus Christi, Galveston, South Padre Island and New Braunfels.