MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — An investigator hired by the Land of Illusions Water Park in Butler County said no laws were broken or regulations violated when 14-year-old Mykiara Jones died after being pulled from the water July 20.
Witnesses at the scene paint a dramatic picture of the incident.
“It just felt very chaotic that there wasn’t a procedure,” said Kristen Grossman, who witnessed the scene that day. “A standard kit that comes out to help with the search like this one.”
The report by Dan Wood of Industrial Safety Services said: “Land of Illusion follows all applicable Federal, State, and local laws and regulations and in many areas has policies, practices and procedures that exceed the requirements of those regulations.”
But there are questions about how the park is regulated. Ohio State Representative Thomas Hall, who lives near the park, told the Journal-News a loophole allows the water park to operate without state regulations. Officials don’t oversee the park because it’s a pond.
Hall said he’s working to change the way ponds are governed.
“It was pure chaos when we were in the water. When the lifeguard did come over, he was yelling, trying to get other lifeguards,” Grossman said. “It took time, but we were asking for things. They didn’t have goggles on them. Paddles. Things that we can use to help with the search.”
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said he’s investigating complaints about the park including not having certified lifeguards, life vest rules not being enforced, and no rescue equipment.
The report recommends the park get underwater technology that detects non-movement and emergencies, employing trained underwater divers and dive equipment on site as well as a jet ski.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture accused the park of operating an unlicensed inflatable on the grounds. Land of Illusion has 30 days to respond and a right to a hearing. If found to be in violation, it could face a $500 fine.