Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A Kansas judge dismissed all charges against officials with Schlitterbahn Waterpark Kansas City in the 2016 death of a 10-year-old boy killed on its Verruckt waterslide.
Last July, the judge ruled that the 17-story Verruckt waterslide, which was billed as the world's largest and has a name meaning crazy or insane in German, would be demolished later in the year. But it was put on hold amid court cases.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark co-owner Jeff Henry, Verruckt designer John Schooley and former park manager Tyler Miles faced charges related to the death of Caleb Schwab on the Verruckt waterslide in Kansas City, Kan.
In addition, the judge dropped charges against Henry & Sons Construction Company and KC Waterpark Management LLC.
The Attorney General's Office could refile charges and seek probable cause from a judge or return the case back to a grand jury.
"We are obviously disappointed and respectfully disagree with the court's decision," Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said. "We will review the ruling carefully, including the court's observation that the ruling 'does not preclude the possibility that the state could continue to pursue this matter in a criminal court,' and take a fresh look at the evidence and applicable law in this tragic and troubling case to determine the best course forward."
A raft carrying Schwab overturned on Aug. 7, 2016, and he was decapitated by a metal pole. Two other riders were seriously injured.
In his ruling, Burns said prosecutors improperly presented to the grand jurors a "highly dramatized" Travel Channel video of the ride's construction.
The grand jury indicted the ride's designer and the park's co-owner for second-degree murder and the park's operations manager for manslaughter.
"It wasn't going fast enough so they put wheels on it," Carl Cornwell, one of Henry's attorneys, said to KSHB-TV. "They have pictures of that. Also they didn't load one of the boats correctly so it would fly off and land someplace else. Well, that was never shown to the grand jury."
Burns found other problems with the grand jury presentation.
The state improperly allowed one questionable expert witness to testify about testing standards, which are not required under Kansas law, he said. In addition, that witnesses improperly testified about the 2013 death of a lifeguard at Schlitterbahn's South Padre Island water park in Texas. He said it would be inadmissible in court.
The Schwab family, which settled a civil case for $20 million in January 2017, had no comment on the judge's ruling, according to an attorney. Kansas state Rep. Scott Schwab is the boy's father.
Former Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison told KCTV-TV he likely would not have pursued such charges.
"There are a lot of people out there who think every time some tragedy occurs, somebody has to be held criminally accountable, somebody's got to go to jail, we've got to string somebody up for this," he said. "I think part of being a good prosecutor is being able to say, sometimes you have to say 'no.' "