Schlitterbahn Water Park corporate executives have been charged with several injuries to patrons as well as the death of ten-year-old Caleb Schwab. Schwab died when the Kansas City amusement park waterslide raft he was riding went airborne. Schwab was decapitated by a metal hoop that supported a netting system above the ride which was advertised as the world’s highest. The grand jury heard testimony that John Schooley, lead designer of the ride Verruckt (German for crazy or insane), had “no engineering credential relevant to amusement ride design or safety.” It was also stated that Jeff Henry, co-owner of Schlitterbahn, had no technical or engineering credentials. Director of Operations, Tyler Austin Miles, was also indicted.
Charges against the New Braunfels, TX, company are based on internal emails, blueprints, recordings and interviews. Key witnesses describe Schlitterbahn as rushing the opening of the 17-story Verruckt ride despite serious questions about the ride’s safety. Dallas News reported that John Hunsucker, a consultant on Verruckt, warned Henry after the ride opened in 2014 that “Verruckt was unfinished and was still in an unsafe condition” and that Henry, according to the indictment, “obviously ignored the report because Verruckt remained in operation.”
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions tells us that U.S. fixed-site amusement and theme parks attract approximately 335 million patrons who take 1.6 billion rides a year. When accidents occur, patrons may sue for damages. Amusement rides expert witnesses provide expert analysis and unbiased testimony in cases of wrongful death, product liability, and operational safety pertaining to amusement parks and theme parks. These experts explain technical parameters to the jury, enabling the jury to make educated decisions. Amusement rides experts employ professional risk and accident analysis, safety auditing of ride operations, forensic accident investigation, and evidence analysis. Their knowledge includes accident prevention, industry codes, state and local standards, ASTM standards, construction safety, and customer safety.
Contact ForensisGroup today to locate a highly qualified amusement rides expert who can consult on the fact pattern in your case.