Local lawyers explain Schlitterbahn charges

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - On the heels of a Kansas Grand Jury indictment against Schlitterbahn water park and its former manager Tyler Miles, legal experts are weighing in on the allegations.

Tyler Miles

Miles, 29, and the amusement park he once managed are facing a number of felony charges.

“The charges are incredibly surprising,” Kansas City, Mo., attorney Rebecca Randles said. "It’s very unusual to have criminal charges arising out of something that has been hailed as an accident.

The charges stem from the August 2016 death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab. He died while riding the Verrückt water slide.

Friday’s indictment reveals more than a dozen others were injured on that ride prior to Schwab’s death.

“I had three split discs in my back and that's still giving me trouble today. I should have surgery, but I haven't,” Brittany Hawkins said.

Hawkins sustained injuries to her back and neck while riding the Verrückt. Many people wonder why her injuries and the others listed in the indictment weren’t enough to shut the ride down.

“Under Kansas law, prior to 2017 there wasn’t a requirement specifically to report those kinds of injuries or there was no enforcement of any requirement that did exist. Now there’s been a law that was passed in 2017 that made reporting mandatory,” Randles said.

“It’s battery, it’s involuntary manslaughter, it’s those kinds of charges as opposed to fraud or failing to document or the kinds of technical violations we usually see,” Randles says.

This could mean as opposed to just negligence, prosecutors had reason to believe Miles and the company knew the Verrückt was dangerous and continued its operations anyway.

“The technical violations don’t usually require an intent. When you’re talking about involuntary manslaughter, and battery and child endangerment, all of those require a criminal intent. Even involuntary manslaughter requires a level of recklessness, meaning that they had to know that there could be injury that arose from their conduct or they can’t be charged criminally for it,” she explained.

Randles says it all comes down to knowledge and intent

“The bottom line is what did they know and when did they know it,” Randles said.

Click here to read the full indictment: https://bit.ly/2pFheq7