This week—more than two years after the death of ten-year-old Caleb Schwab on the Verrückt waterslide at Schlitterbahn’s Kansas City waterpark—a crane began the demolition of the seventeen-story slide. The move was something the company had been hoping to do for some time, but the legal consequences of Schwab’s death, which resulted in charges of second-degree murder, aggravated child endangerment, and aggravated battery being filed against Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry and collaborator John Schooley, prevented the slide from being dismantled until prosecutors agreed to allow it in July. It was considered evidence in the criminal cases against Henry and Schooley.
For the past two years, the slide has stood as a monument to the tragic consequences of Schlitterbahn’s hubris. With Verrückt’s demolition, the constant visual reminder of how Schlitterbahn went from being the hottest, coolest time in Texas to one of the more striking cautionary tales in business comes to an end—although the ongoing prosecution of Henry and Schooley means that the story is still far from resolution.
The destruction of Verrückt isn’t the only reason why Henry’s name is once more in the news. This month, he was arrested again. According to the Kansas City Star, Henry was charged with a felony count of drug possession with intent to distribute (and possessing paraphernalia related to) methamphetamine, as well as two misdemeanor counts—one for possession of Xanax without a prescription, and one for hiring a sex worker. The charges stem from an incident that happened outside of Kansas City in July, while the arrest occurred on October 23, following a court appearance for the Schlitterbahn-related charges.
These aren’t the first drug-related charges Henry’s faced. He pleaded guilty to third-degree felony charges in 1994 after being arrested with 17 ounces of marijuana, and was convicted on another misdemeanor possession charge in 2007. When Texas Monthly‘s Skip Hollandsworth spoke to Henry in June, following the murder charge, the waterpark co-owner described a situation that could well lead to self-medicating: “If I really believed I was responsible for the death of that little boy, I’d kill myself right now,” he told Hollandsworth in an early-morning phone call. “There are members of my family who would like to commit me to a facility because I’m suffering from depression. Sometimes I can’t get out of bed for days.”