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Records: Health department made recommendations to Land of Illusion days after teen’s death

Posted at 8:12 AM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 19:02:39-04

The Butler County General Health District received a complaint of Land of Illusion’s Aqua Adventures park the same day a 14-year-old girl died after being pulled from the water there, and officials met with the park to make recommendations for changes, records show.

Mykiara Jones apparently drowned at Aqua Adventures on July 20 while swimming without a life jacket. Her body was found in the murky water 30 minutes after she was last seen that evening, according to the Journal-News.

Jones, an incoming freshman at Middletown High School, was flown by CareFlight to Dayton Children’s Hospital, where she died. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office hasn’t released a cause or manner of death, and it may take several weeks before results are known, according to an official.

While the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Department of Health and the Butler County General Health District said they don’t handle inspections at the Land of Illusion water park because it’s on a pond, the county health department received an anonymous complaint five hours before Jones’ death.

A person called the health department at 11:14 a.m. on July 20 and said she was at the park on July 17 and it was “over capacity” with about 600 people and no adult supervision.

“Kids were pushing other kids around,” the complaint read. “No one was trying to control the crowd. Felt it was unsafe and dangerous for people that were there.”

The following day, two representatives from the county health department met with Land of Illusion officials and made several recommendations based on swimming pool regulations. Because the health department has no authority over the water park, it made “suggestions only,” according to the document obtained by The Journal-News.

The health department officials said lifeguards should be able to scan their area and respond within 20 seconds. After hearing the suggestion, Land of Illusion may hire more lifeguards, according to the document.

It was also suggested that Land of Illusion post signs informing patrons they must wear life jackets when in the water.

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones said his office has been “inundated with complaints” about the Aqua Adventures Park. Ryan Perry, manager of the water park, said the park not only meets all applicable regulations but goes “above and beyond because of our commitment to safety.”

Jones said the complaints allege the park does not have certified lifeguards, life vest rules are not enforced and no rescue equipment is readily available, among others.

Land of Illusion posted on its Facebook page two days after the fatal incident that the water 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.”

The statement said the water park was looking forward to “supporting and collaborating” with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and other state and local officials as they continue their investigations.

Jones said the investigation may extend beyond his office and he plans on contacting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for assistance.

Jones told this news outlet that it will be “a big investigation” that has no timetable.

“Our job is to get to the bottom of this,” he said.