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Family of boy decapitated on ‘world’s tallest waterslide’ received £15.6 million after murder charges were dropped

Family of boy decapitated on ‘world’s tallest waterslide’ received £15.6 million after murder charges were dropped

The little lad died instantly while riding the rapid slide

The family of a little boy who was decapitated on the ‘world’s tallest waterslide’ received a $20 million (£15.6million) payout after murder charges were dropped.

Over in the US, the famed Schlitterbahn Water Park was home to the Verrückt, a mega 169-foot-tall slide with zooming speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.

And visitors flocked to the theme park in Kansas City for it, with young Caleb Schwab and his family showing up with free admission on 7 August 2016 as part of an ‘elected officials day’.

However, the day ended in tragedy when the 10-year-old faced instant death on the slide which translated from German means 'Insane’.

Caleb and his brother Nathan of course wanted to ride the slide, promising their parents they’d stick together. However, in order to meet weight requirements on the Verrückt’s rafts, the ride operators split the pair up.

Both brothers ended up riding with two strangers, with Nathan being sent down first. But when Caleb was sent down afterwards, his fast speed saw him become airborne.

The little lad was launched into a metal pole supporting a safety net and this caused him to be decapitated and killed on impact.

The slide was very popular for its height and speed. (The Atlantic)
The slide was very popular for its height and speed. (The Atlantic)

Nathan had to then tell the rest of his family what had happened and the case went to court, with a grand jury filing charges of second-degree murder against Schlitterbahn owner Jeff Henry, designer John Schooley and Henry and Sons Construction Co.

In addition to the murder charge, there were also 12 counts of aggravated battery and five counts of aggravated endangering a child.

However, after several years, a judge dismissed all the charges on the grounds of grand jury abuse due to incidents such as the members of the grand jury being shown a made-for-TV video of the ride which was dramatized.

According to CBS, attorneys argued the video didn't show how the ride actually worked and the grand jury had not been told that the video was a dramatization.

The defence also added jurors were told that the waterslide wasn't built to the proper standards, but the State of Kansas did not require those standards at the time of the ride's construction or at the time of Caleb's death.

Caleb lost his life on the slide. (Family Handout)
Caleb lost his life on the slide. (Family Handout)

The law was instead toughened, and the defence claimed with the jurors being told this information, they might have concluded that the water park had been breaking the law.

In 2019, judge Robert Burns dismissed the charges, saying: "The court has grave doubts as to whether the irregularities and improprieties improperly influenced the grand jury and ultimately bolstered its decision to indict these defendants. Quite simply, these defendants were not afforded the due process protections and fundamental fairness Kansas law requires."

Caleb's family had previously received around $20 million in settlements, while the two other passengers on the raft with him also received undisclosed fees as settlements.

The Schlitterbahn waterpark was shut down in September 2018, while the Verrückt was permanently closed following Caleb's death and later dismantled.

Featured Image Credit: Family Handout/The Atlantic

Topics: US News