Rep. Thomas Hall gives sponsor testimony on bill addressing safety of waterparks following girl’s death at Land of Illusion

Mykiara Jones, 14, of Dayton, an incoming freshman at Middletown High School, died July 20, 2021 in a drowning at a water park in Madison Twp. MIDDLETOWN CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

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Mykiara Jones, 14, of Dayton, an incoming freshman at Middletown High School, died July 20, 2021 in a drowning at a water park in Madison Twp. MIDDLETOWN CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

The Ohio House Health Committee has begun hearings on House Bill 457, legislation sponsored by State Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) that would address a “loophole” in regulatory oversight in the Ohio Revised Code.

Hall introduced the bill after Mykiara Jones, 14, of Dayton, an incoming freshman at Middletown High School, drowned July 20 at Land of Illusion Aqua Adventure Park in Madison Twp. Mykiara, not wearing a life jacket, went under the murky water and her body was recovered about 30 minutes later by lifeguards and first responders, according to officials.

She was transported to Dayton Children’s Hospital where she died. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office ruled her death an accidental drowning.

Loopholes in the Ohio Revised Code are “avoidable” and correcting these “dangerous issues” could have potentially saved Mykiara’s life, according to Hall.

“This piece of legislation has just one goal, to provide some oversight to these commercial enterprises to ensure the safety of all Ohioans,” he said.

There is no oversight by a regulatory body if commercial facilities that have manmade bodies of water. H.B. 457 would require the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, to establish licensing and safety requirements governing these enterprises, according to Hall.

The requirements adopted by the ODH would address the following activities:

  • The design and construction of the facilities, including their components, appurtenant structures, and the surrounding areas;
  • Licensing of the enterprises and inspection of their facilities;
  • The number and positioning of lifeguards;
  • First aid, lifeguard, CPR, and any other training that the owners of the enterprises must require employees to obtain;
  • Any records that the owners of the enterprises must keep and maintain;
  • Any safety equipment that the owners of the enterprises must maintain; and
  • Any other rule governing safety that the director determines is necessary for the effective implementation of the above provisions.

Two days after the drowning, Brett Oakley, owner of Land of Illusion, hired an independent investigator to undertake an assessment and gap analysis of the park’s health and safety policies, procedures and programs.

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

In November, Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones announced no criminal charges would be filed against the waterpark after a thorough investigation by his office investigators and in consultation with the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office.

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State Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) introduced House Bill 457 that would address a “loophole” in regulatory oversight in the Ohio Revised Code. SUBMITTED PHOTO

State Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) introduced House Bill 457 that would address a “loophole” in regulatory oversight in the Ohio Revised Code. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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State Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.) introduced House Bill 457 that would address a “loophole” in regulatory oversight in the Ohio Revised Code. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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