Judge dismisses charges over 10-year-old boy’s death on waterslide at KS amusement park

Judge dismisses charges over 10-year-old boy’s death on waterslide at KS amusement park
A judge has dropped criminal charges against a co-owner of the Schlitterbahn amusement park in Kansas, where a boy was decapitated on a waterslide ride in 2016.

KANSAS CITY, KS (WDAF/CNN) – Criminals charges were thrown out Friday against the co-owner of a Kansas amusement park and two others involved in the case of a child who died on a waterslide.

It’s the latest chapter in the case of a 10-year-old boy who died by decapitation on a waterslide ride at the Schlitterbahn amusement park in 2016.

Park co-owner Jeff Henry, waterslide designer John Schooley and general contractor Henry and Sons Construction faced multiple charges related to the death, including second-degree murder.

The judge determined the state’s attorney general “irreparably tainted” a grand jury with certain evidence in order to get indictments.

Caleb Schwab, the 10-year-old boy who died, was the son of Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab.

"Now, I do not believe, that if this would have been a young white average, black average, Hispanic average kid - same thing, that this would have never been filed," said Carl Cornell, Henry’s defense attorney.

When asked if he thought the case had to do with Scott Schwab’s political standing, Cornwall said it absolutely did not.

"As I look at the case, as I look at everything that was done, as I've looked at thousands and thousands of pages and talked with these great attorneys that I've been privileged to work with … I don't know why it was filed, folks. I don't know. Who pushed this? Why was it pushed? It just makes no sense to me."

Ultimately, Judge Robert Burns decided that a Travel Channel video, which prosecutors showed as evidence to a grand jury, gave a false impression about how the park operated.

The judge also pointed to testimony about a 2013 death at a Schlitterbahn water park in Texas. Burns said that testimony was prejudicial and not relevant to the case.

"You're only smart enough to figure out what you're given, and they were given crap,” Cornwall said. “And that's the kind of case they had. And Judge Burns just flushed it."

As for what happens next, the prosecutor’s office can either take the evidence to a different grand jury, or file a criminal complaint and potentially go to trial.

The waterslide Caleb Schwab died on has been torn down.

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