No charges filed in drowning at Land of Illusion Adventure Park

Following an investigation into the drowning of a 14-year-old Middletown High School incoming freshman this summer, no criminal charges are being filed against the waterpark, according to Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones.

Mykiara Jones drowned at the Land of Illusion Adventure Park in Madison Twp. on June 20, 2021, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office. She was swimming without a life jacket. Her body was found in the murky pond water 30 minutes after she was last seen.

Jones said after a thorough investigation by the sheriff’s office investigators and in consultation with the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office, it was determined there would be no criminal charges filed against the amusement park.

“This incident was tragic,” Jones said. “Our continued thoughts are with the family,”

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the sheriff’s office did “a comprehensive investigation” and it took its time, made all the appropriate inquiries to what safety measures were in place and what the system of operations were with respect to that body of water.

“Believe it or not, there are still accidents in this society of ours, everything is not criminalized yet,” he said. “I am very satisfied with their investigation.”

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No state regulations exist to oversee Land of Illusion because the recreation area is located on a pond and not another type of water area, an investigation by this news outlet found. State and local agencies regulate nearly every other type of water recreation area in Ohio, from splash pads to municipal swimming pools to beaches.

Last month, Ohio Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Twp., introduced a bill that would require rules governing the safety of swimmers on manmade ponds, lakes, or other similar bodies of water.

Hall introduced House Bill 457 into the 134th General Assembly regular session. The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Andrea White, R-Kettering, Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, Adam Bird, R-New Richmond and Sharon Ray, R-Wadsworth.

“We need to do whatever we can to keep this from happening again,” Hall said at the time. “This is extremely personal to me.”

The goal, he said, is to keep similar drownings from ever happening by correcting the regulatory gap.

The next step for the bill is to be assigned to an Ohio House committee.

Two days after the drowning, the water park hired an independent investigator to undertake an assessment and gap analysis of the park’s health and safety policies, procedures and programs, it said in a release.

The investigation, conducted by Dan Wood of Industrial Safety Services of Ohio, revealed no violations of law or regulations during the drowning.

Staff Writer Lauren Pack contributed to this report.

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