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First trial underway in Schlitterbahn death case

Posted at 12:52 PM, Oct 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-15 18:43:34-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The first Schlitterbahn trial started Monday with jury selection.

David Hughes and John Zalsman are accused of giving false information to investigators about the maintenance of the Verruckt water slide.

Hughes was Schlitterbahn Water Park's maintenance supervisor.

Zalsman was on his staff.

Court records filed in May claim the two men, along with fellow employee Willard Kampmeier, were responsible for the Verruckt water slide's construction, repair and maintenance.

After a 10 year old boy died on the slide in August, 2016, investigators wanted to know why a brake mat on hill two of Verruckt had not been repaired.

Court records state that brake mat fell off the water slide July 28, 2016.


The criminal indictment against the two men also states hill two is typically where passenger rafts would go airborne. 

The indictment further states Hughes, Zalsman and Kampmeier each told investigators no brake mat to slow down the rafts was ever on the hill when it opened to the public.  

But investigators then showed Kampmeier a screen shot from a guest's camera showing the brake mat weeks before it fell off.

Kampmeier then told investigators Miles and Hughes were responsible for telling the maintenance crews to make repairs.

But court records say the brake mat was never repaired.

Less than two weeks after it fell off, a 10 year-old died on Verruckt.

When the 41 Action News Investigators asked Hughes and Zalsman if they had obstructed justice at a previous court hearing, Hughes said, "No sir I did not". Zalsman said, "No comment."

Both Hughes and Zalsman pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Other Schlitterbahn defendants charged in the tragedy, including the ride's designers and a park manager, are scheduled to go on trial in December.