Schlitterbahn Co-Owner Arrested in South Padre Island for Murder

Local News

Jeffrey Wayne Henry, Co-Owner of Schlitterbahn, was arrested in South Padre Island for murder in Kansas in relation to the death of a 10-year old boy. 

The boy, Caleb Schwab, the son of a Kansas state lawmaker, Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab, was killed while on the world’s tallest water slide at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City in 2016. 

Cameron County Jail records listed one count of murder among the charges against Henry, with no indication of what degree, along with 12 counts of aggravated battery and five counts of aggravated endangerment of a child. 

Thirteen other people, including four children, were injured in the incident in August 2016.

Last week, a grand jury indictment alleged that Henry designed the ride Caleb was killed on. The ride, the Verrückt — which means “crazy” in German — dropped customers almost 169 feet at 65 mph. 

Caleb was decapitated on the ride after being airborne, and hitting a pole and netting designed to keep riders from being thrown from the ride.

According to the indictment, Henry “possesses no technical or engineering credentials, yet he controls decisions regarding Schlitterbahn design and construction projects.”

That alleged lack of expertise “and a desire to rush the timeline” led Henry and colleagues to skip fundamental steps in the design process, according to the indictment.

The charges come after a 19-month investigation into the death of the 10-year-old boy.

The indictment says a video shows that Caleb was following all rider instructions when he died.

The death seemed like an isolated accident until whistleblowers from Schlitterbahn revealed that experts who examined the slide found evidence indicating that other rafts had gone airborne and crashed into the overhead hoops and netting before the fatality, according to the indictment.

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said his department assisted the United States Marshals in the arrest. 

Lucio did not say if Henry was arrested at the Schlitterbahn Park in South Padre Island. 

Schlitterbahn sent News Center 23 a statement regarding the indictment, saying they are shocked by the allegations of failing to maintain the ride and that it is completely false. 

Adding that many of the staff, and their “children and grandchildren have ridden the ride with complete confidence as to its safety.”

And their operational mantra has been and will forever be safety first. 

The legal team will be speaking out against each of the allegations in the coming weeks and months.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Stay Connected

Trending Stories

Hurricane Tracker Center

Inside RGV Politics

More Inside RGV Politics