No violations uncovered in Land of Illusion waterpark investigation, park owner says

Land of Illusion Adventure Park on Thomas Road in Madison Twp. in Butler County was the site of an apparent drowning last month of incoming Middletown High School freshman Mykiara Jones of the Dayton area. An independent investigator said the waterpark followed safety procedures. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

caption arrowCaption
Land of Illusion Adventure Park on Thomas Road in Madison Twp. in Butler County was the site of an apparent drowning last month of incoming Middletown High School freshman Mykiara Jones of the Dayton area. An independent investigator said the waterpark followed safety procedures. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Butler County park hired own consultant and is cooperating with officials after teen’s June 20 drowning death.

Weeks after a 14-year-old girl apparently drowned in a Butler County waterpark, officials there announced that it has “policies, practices and procedures that exceed the requirements” of regulations.

On July 22, two days after the apparent drowning, Land of Illusion Aqua Adventure Park in Madison Twp. hired an independent investigator to undertake an assessment and gap analysis of the park’s health and safety policies, procedures and programs following the death of 14-year-old Mykiara Jones, an incoming freshman at Middletown High School who lived in the Dayton area.

ExploreRELATED: ‘She never came back up’: 911 calls show urgency in search for 14-year-old at Land of Illusion waterpark

The investigation, conducted by Dan Wood of Industrial Safety Services of Ohio, revealed no violations of law or regulations during the apparent drowning, according to a release Friday from the waterpark.

“The tragedy on July 20 at the Land of Illusion Aqua Adventure Park has been devastating for a family, their friends and our entire community, including our guests, team of employees and the first responders who were there that afternoon,” park owner Brett Oakley said in a statement. “The park has been in the spotlight for weeks, and we’ve limited our engagement with the public discussions and media as we know the anguish we’re feeling does not match the devastation felt by the family over the loss of their child.”

He said the park has been working “tirelessly behind the scenes” to evaluate the events of that day and cooperate with all state and local officials who are investigating.

ExploreLand of Illusion death: ‘Loophole’ keeps site of possible teen drowning from being regulated or inspected

Mykiara, who wasn’t wearing a life jacket, was reported missing in the murky water and was found about 30 minutes later in the pond. She was taken to Dayton Children’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office performed an autopsy but the cause and manner of her death haven’t been released.

Oakley, a volunteer firefighter for 27 years in Madison Twp., said the health and safety of the park’s guests and employees is his “highest priority.”

He said the park has invested nearly $18 million in Land of Illusion .

“We invest in state-of-the-art facilities, continually ensure we have updated, quality equipment — including health and safety equipment we are not even required to have — and follow all of the rules and regulations in place to make sure we’re operating in the safest and best way possible,” he said.

The park will continue to cooperate with all state and local officials who are investigating the drowning and he encourages them to complete their investigations and share the results.

He said Wood has been a health and safety consultant for 16 years working with companies and organizations to assess and improve their overall health and safety policies, procedures and programs.

Wood said his assessment included review of Land of Illusion’s health and safety policies, procedures and programs including its emergency action plan, safety and emergency equipment, water safety practices and procedures, hazardous energy controls, and respiratory protection.

ExploreOfficials: Land of Illusion waterpark faces possible fine for unlicensed inflatable

It also included extensive onsite employee interviews and review of all investigative materials available from July 20, he said. He 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.

He made several recommendations, including:

• Invest in an Angel Detection System, which provides technology to act as an underwater lifeguard that detects non-movement and underwater emergencies;

• Make available to on-duty personnel side scan sonar and underwater remote vehicle to deploy in the event a missing person’s report filed;

• Employ trained underwater divers and have dive equipment on site ready for deployment;

• Invest in a jet ski with a drag board attached for rapid deployment in a rescue event.

About the Author