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Butler County sheriff investigating 'staggering' safety complaints at water park

MYKIARA JONES1.png
Posted at 1:44 PM, Jul 22, 2021

MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The Butler County Sheriff's Office will investigate potential safety violations at the Land of Illusion’s Aqua Adventures Water Park following a Tuesday incident in which a teenager died after disappearing under the water.

Sheriff Richard Jones said his office has been "inundated" with complaints since the death of 14-year-old Mykiara Jones, who spent 30 minutes underwater before lifeguards retrieved her on Tuesday night. She was hospitalized but died a few hours later.

Per the sheriff, who is not related to Mykiara Jones, the complaints include allegations that park lifeguards are not certified, life vest rules are not enforced and no rescue equipment is readily available.

"After this tragedy, the number of complaints has been staggering, and I feel it's important to obtain all relevant facts to ensure everything is being done according to regulations and safety guidelines," Sheriff Richard Jones said.

In a statement to WCPO, Land of Illusion said the park complies with all Ohio regulations that apply to the park's activities:

We continue to offer thoughts and prayers to the family of the young guest involved in the tragedy on July 20, 2021. We also send out deep appreciation to the team members and first responders who supported the rescue effort.

Land of Illusion Adventure Park is committed to providing a safe and fun recreation destination for our region. We prioritize guest safety and training for our team and diligently comply with all Ohio regulations governing the activities and offerings available at our Aqua Adventure Park.

We look forward to supporting and collaborating with the Butler County Sheriff's Office and other state and local officials as they continue their investigations following the tragedy.

Jones said he plans to contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the attorney general's office for assistance during the investigation.

Eye witness Kristen Grossman, who was at Land of Illusion at the time of Mykiara Jones' apparent drowning, said the teen was in the area of the park's inflatable obstacle course when she went under.

"It was pretty crowded in that," Grossman said. "You know, all the inflatables had people bouncing on it and going on."

WCPO reached out to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which oversees safety and fairs and amusement parks, for information about the water park's recent safety inspections and licensing. The department replied that it could not provide records of either because water rides are exempt under Ohio law.

Land of Illusion did contact the Department of Agriculture to inspect a handful of land-based rides, but the park did not have the documentation required for the department to license them to operate those rides.

The Middletown City School District is offering counseling for students, staff and parents in the district who struggle to deal with the loss. A funeral GoFundMe has been set up for Mykiara Jones' family.