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Teen drowns at Cincinnati-area water park, coroner says

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 5:26 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 11:05 AM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A 14-year-old girl has died after being pulled from the water at a water park in Butler County, the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said early Wednesday.

Mykiara Jones, 14, of Dayton died Tuesday night, shortly after a medical helicopter flew her to Dayton Children’s Hospital from Land of Illusion’s waterpark, Aqua Adventures, in Madison Township, according to the coroner’s office.

Her autopsy will be conducted Wednesday, coroner’s officials confirmed.

Local and state officials are investigating.

“This is a tragedy no parent should have to endure,” said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, whose agency is heading up the local probe.

“These are the calls first responders dread and have difficulty dealing with. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family,” Sheriff Jones said.

The water park is closed Wednesday due to the girl’s death, Land of Illusion officials said in a post on the park’s Facebook page.

“Land of Illusion is saddened to learn of the passing of a young girl at our Aqua Adventure Park yesterday (July 20). Out of respect for her and her family, and for our employees who are also dealing with this tragedy, Land of Illusion Aqua Adventure Park will be closed today,” the post reads.

“We are fully supporting state and local officials as they investigate the incident. We would like to thank first responders and all those who participated in the rescue effort. We ask that you join us in sending thoughts and prayers and our deepest condolences to our guest’s family and friends, as well as to the team members and guests who were on site last evening during this tragedy.

Land of Illusion is saddened to learn of the passing of a young girl at our Aqua Adventure Park yesterday (July 20). Out...

Posted by Land of Illusion on Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Butler County dispatchers received reports that a 14-year-old girl went into the water and never came back up.

One of the callers stated they searched for the girl, who was not wearing a life jacket, 12 minutes before calling 911, according to a recording of the call.

The other caller said he was the father of a girl who worked at the water park as a lifeguard. He told the dispatcher his daughter called him and asked him to report a girl was missing, according to a recording of that call.

Butler County deputies responded to the lake at the park at 8762 Thomas Road for a report of a juvenile drowning, the sheriff said.

When deputies arrived, the sheriff said Madison Township EMS and Land of Illusion staff were trying to find the girl.

A lifeguard located Mykiara about 30 minutes after she went under the water, the sheriff said.

A preliminary investigation determined she was not wearing a life jacket, Jones told FOX19 NOW in a brief phone interview Wednesday morning.

She was immediately pulled from the water and Madison Township EMS began to administer CPR, according to the sheriff’s office.

CareFlight arrived on scene and took her to Dayton Children’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Mykiara was a freshman at Middletown High School and her mother works in one of the district’s schools, according to a message from the superintendent to families and staff.

“It is with great sadness that I write this letter to you,” Superintendent Marlon Styles wrote.

“One of our students died yesterday after a possible drowning incident at the Land of Illusion Water Park. Mykiara Jones was a rising freshman at Middletown High School and we mourn for her family and friends. Mykiara’s mother works in our schools, so we will be wrapping our arms around her during this extremely difficult time.

“Our district has experienced a lot of loss this past year and I want you to know we are here to help you in any way we can. Our Student Services Department is working with Access Counseling to have grief counselors available to support students, staff and parents as needed.”

Her math teacher, Jennifer King, said Mykiara had a great and infectious personality.

“She was always the first one to volunteer loved helping people,” King described. “Her bubbly personality was just infectious.”

King said the 14-year-old dreamed of going to MIT one day to become an engineer.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is responsible for licensing installations at amusement parks and water parks in Ohio, but an ODA spokesperson says inflatable devices on lakes such as those at Land of Illusion are exempted from licensure requirements.

Other installations at the park do have to be licensed but they were not as of Wednesday. The spokesperson explained:

“Land of Illusions requested inspections recently to license three other devices (a Euro bungee, rock wall, and inflatable slide) that are operated on the ground. Upon inspection, the facility did not have the required documentation to complete the inspections and receive licenses, and therefore, ODA advised that these devices could not operate. ODA is currently awaiting complete documentation from the company. Once the documentation is secured, ODA will inspect these devices, and permission to operate may be granted.”

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