Park Executive Indicted on Manslaughter After 10-Year-Old’s 2016 Water Slide Death

I certainly remember hearing about the horrific 2016 death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab at the Schlitterbahn waterpark in Kansas. Schwab was riding the giant, steep Verruckt waterslide when his raft went airborne. The force with which Schwab hit protective netting was so great that he was decapitated. At the time, the Verruckt death made headlines because it was both tragic and horrifying—a child out at a waterpark for a day of fun with his family tragically lost his life. But like so many news stories, it faded into my memory until this past week.

Then, last Friday, a Kansas City grand jury decided that Caleb Schwab’s death was not merely accidental, but criminal. The Associated Press reported that after a 19-month investigation, “the [Schlitterbahn] waterpark and Tyler Austin Miles, 29, a former operations director at the park, were indicted Friday on involuntary manslaughter and several other charges in Caleb’s death. The indictment alleges that a company co-owner and the designer of the Verruckt rushed it into use and had no technical or engineering expertise related to amusement park rides.”

Photo: Schlitterbahn Park

I don’t know about you, but as a parent, that last line about this 168 foot, 7-inch waterslide being rushed into use and designed by people who had no expertise related to amusement park rides kind of freaks me out. The Verruckt was specifically built to be the world’s tallest water slide and break a world record in order to make a splash on a travel TV show…and that desire to be the biggest and most outrageous led to a child’s death.

verruckt death
Photo: Schwab family

Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson
Jenny is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor.

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