KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A former Schlitterbahn water park employee spoke to FOX4 Saturday and says it was a widely kept secret among people who worked at Schlitterbahn that the Verrückt water slide that a 10-year-old was killed on was dangerous.
Schlitterbahn and its former operations manager Tyler Miles are facing a list of felonies in connection to the water slide death. Caleb Schwab, who was just 10 years old, was killed on the ride on 2016.
Caleb was riding the slide with two adult women, with whom he was matched on the raft. The women are from north of Hays, Kansas. One suffered a broken jaw, and the other a broken bone in her face and had to have stitches in her eye. The two women have since agreed to out-of-court financial settlements in this case.
Schwab had been spending the day with his family when the horrific, deadly incident happened. His father, Olathe state representative Scott Schwab, brought the family to Schlitterbahn for a day of free fun as part of Lawmaker Day. But it ended in tragedy.
The former employee told FOX4 that even they didn’t want to ride it.
“We had to ride it three times before we actually opened the park every day,” Nathan Campbell said. “They would ask lifeguards who would want to volunteer and no one would put their hands up.”
Employees were required to take three test rides down the waterslide. Many days, Campbell says, no one volunteered, but someone had to do it.
“People started getting hurt, and people started test riding it. It was like, no I don’t want to do it,” Campbell said. “They are just making us, like, oh yeah, go test this it is fine, even though the test dummies fly off and they are still making us go on it. It’s like oh, should we do it, should we risk our life or our job for this?”
Campbell’s day came and would be the only time he would take the plunge on Verrückt.
“The first two times, it was good, nothing really happened,” Campbell said. “The third time they took one of the other lifeguards off so it was too less of weight. And at the very end we just kept going, didn’t stop. Hit the wall and flipped over.”
Campbell says after his crash, he had to go home because of a back injury, which took a while to heal, but Campbell eventually went back to work at Schlitterbahn. There was never a report written about his injury.
Campbell did not return to Schlitterbahn the next summer, and the following year is when Caleb Schwab was killed, suffering a fatal neck injury while riding Verrückt.
Tyler Miles was the operations director at Schlitterbahn when Campbell worked at the waterpark. Miles has been charged with 20 felony crimes, his trial is set to begin September 10.
Schlitterbahn has also been indicted in the 10-year-old’s death. The KCK water park has been charged with involuntary manslaughter along with several other charges in connection to the 13 other people who were injured while riding the water slide, which has since been permanently shut down.
Schlitterbahn will tear down the water slide once a court grants it permission following the investigation.