SOURCES: Grand jury meets to review Schlitterbahn case

Posted at 11:42 AM, Mar 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-19 19:11:14-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – A grand jury in Wyandotte County is reviewing evidence in the 2016 death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab at Schlitterbahn Water Park, 41 Action News has confirmed.

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office has been reviewing the case since December 2016, and officially, a spokesman with the office said they continue to review the case.

Sources told 41 Action News, however, that many of the key figures in the 2016 incident were asked to testify in front of a grand jury this month at various locations in Wyandotte County.

It’s not clear if the grand jury process and the investigation by the attorney general’s office are connected.

The fact that a grand jury has been called however, has drawn mixed reviews.

"I don't like to trash the grand jury system like I hear some people doing, because I believe in the grand jury system," said University of Missouri - Kansas City Law Professor Rafe Foreman.

However, Foreman says a criminal prosecution in this case would set a dangerous precedent in criminalizing product design.

Foreman also says it would have a chilling effect on commerce, creativity and invention.

But he says any possible grand jury indictment is far from a conviction guarantee.

"You can't enter it as evidence, you can't take it as evidence, I believe in the presumption of innocence," Foreman said.

Because the Kansas Attorney General's Office is still investigating the case more than a year and a half after the tragedy, Veruckt is still there.

A Schlitterbahn spokeswoman says company leaders didn't think the water slide would still be standing this long after Caleb's death.

They do expect to tear it down at some point.

However, they haven't decided whether to tear down just the slide or the stairs and tower as well yet.

Grand jury proceedings are not public, and unless any indictments are filed, their conclusions may not be disclosed.

State Representative Scott Schwab, Caleb's father, referred us to his attorney for comment on the grand jury proceedings.

He was unavailable.

In January 2017, the Schwab family reached a $20 million civil settlement with several parties including Schlitterbahn.

The nearly 170-foot tall water slide was the tallest in the world when it opened in 2014. The opening was delayed initially due to safety concerns.

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