KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The designer of the Verruckt water slide at the Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kan., has been booked in the Wyandotte County jail.
John Schooley was picked up just after 4 a.m. Friday morning from the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office and transported to Kansas. He has been in the custody of Dallas County since Monday when U.S. Marshals arrested him as he returned to the United States on a flight from China.
Schooley was reportedly out of the country on business but was aware that he had been charged and was wanted, a U.S. Marshals spokesperson previously told FOX4.
A grand jury indicted Schooley on charges of second-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated endangering of a child in the deadly water slide incident that killed 10-year-old Caleb Schwab in August 2016.
Schooley’s first Wyandotte County court appearance is scheduled for Monday, his attorney told FOX4.
The co-owner of Schlitterbahn pleaded not guilty Thursday to the same charges.
Jeff Henry made his first court appearance in Wyandotte County and entered a not-guilty plea as his journey into the legal system begins.
Henry left court in a suit and tie, now free on bond. But the co-owner of Schlitterbahn was not ready to share his side of the story.
“I am not making any more comments. Do you mind? Just let me go home?” Henry said when confronted by reporters.
He told FOX4 off camera that he is incredibly sorry for Caleb Schwab’s family and soon, he will share his thoughts on facing criminal charges in the 10-year-old’s death on the Verruckt water slide he helped create.
“In his words, told me there’s not a day goes by he doesn’t think about Caleb Schwab,” Henry’s defense attorney Ron Barroso said. “He’s torn apart by what happened out there.”
In court, prosecutors argued Henry should be ordered to wear a GPS tracking device because he is a flight risk. Prosecutors also asked the judge to order Henry to turn over his passport.
A judge agreed Henry should surrender his passport immediately but denied the prosecution’s request he wear a GPS ankle monitor.
“He’s not going anywhere. He wants to come and defend himself against these charges,” Barroso said. “I can tell you the allegations I read in the indictment are ludicrous.”
Henry’s defense team insists he worked hard to make sure Verruckt was safe and that the construction was actually delayed more than a year, not fast-tracked for TV glory as the Kansas Attorney General wrote in the criminal indictment.
“He wanted to make sure it was done in best possible way,” Barroso said.
“How can you do that when you’ve never had experience building a slide like this?” FOX4 asked.
“The thing is he’s had experience building other slides, maybe not as tall as that but he has worldwide reputation for having built other slides,” Barroso said.
Henry’s lawyers also dispute the prosecution’s long list of previous injuries on Verruckt and said Henry’s own claims the “slide could kill him” were dramatized for a TV show.
Their goal is to get to the bottom of what actually happened on the ride when Caleb Schwab died.
“I don’t think there`s ever been established a cause for what happened on that day,” Barroso said. “There’s never been definitive answer, and Jeff Henry wants to find out about that. He wants it for Caleb`s family and for himself as well.”
Right now, Henry and his co-defendants — designer John Schooley and former park operations manager Tyler Miles — are set to be tried together in September. But Henry’s lawyers are hoping for separate trials.
A status check is planned for April 25. The judge indicated based on what is determined during the course of the next few months, he could determine separate trials are warranted.