Co-designer of deadly Kansas waterslide that decapitated boy charged in child’s death

The co-designer of the deadly Kansas waterslide that decapitated a 10-year-old boy was arrested late Monday at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

John Schooley, 72, was detained after arriving on a flight from China, the U.S. Marshals Service announced. He was charged with second-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 41 years in prison.

Schooley, who was indicted by a grand jury in Kansas last month, also faces charges of aggravated battery and aggravated endangerment of a child.

Caleb Schwab, the son of Kansas state Rep. Scott Schwab, a Republican, died at Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts two years ago while riding the 17-foot slide called Varruckt, which is German for “insane.” The raft he was riding went airborne and hit an overhead loop.

Three men connected with the Texas-based waterpark and its park in Kansas City, Kan., have been indicted by a Kansas grand jury.

Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeffrey Henry, 62, was also charged with reckless second-degree murder, along with Henry & Sons Construction Co., which is described as the private construction company of Schlitterbahn.

They also were charged with 17 other felonies tied to injuries other riders sustained on the giant slide.

The indictment accuses Henry of making a "spur of the moment" decision to build the ride. It also said he and Schooley lacked technical or engineering expertise in amusement park rides.

The indictment claims 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 listed a dozen instances in which the design violated those standards and claimed Schooley lacked the technical expertise to properly design a complex amusement ride such as Verruckt.

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

The same grand jury also indicted the Kansas City park and Tyler Austin Miles, its former operations manager, on 20 felony charges. The charges includes a single count of involuntary manslaughter in Schwab's death. Miles has been released on $50,000 bond, according to one of his attorneys, Tricia Bath.

According to the indictments, Henry decided in 2012 to build the world's tallest waterslide to impress the producers of a Travel Channel show. Henry's desire to "rush the project" caused the company to "skip fundamental steps in the design process."

“Not a single engineer was directly involved in Verruckt's dynamic engineering or slide path design," the indictment said.

The indictment said that in 2014, when there were news reports emerging about airborne rafts, a company spokesperson "discredited" them and Henry and his designer began "secretly testing at night to avoid scrutiny."

The indictment listed 13 injuries during the 182 days the ride was in operation, including two concussions. In one of those cases, a 15-year-old girl went temporarily blind.

The Schwab family reached settlements of nearly $20 million with Schlitterbahn and various companies associated with the design and construction of the waterslide. The two women who rode on the same raft with Caleb suffered serious injuries and settled claims with Schlitterbahn for an undisclosed amount.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.