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Land of Illusion park manager writes open letter after teen’s death

Mykiara Jones, 14, died shortly after she was pulled from the water Tuesday at Land of Illusion...
Mykiara Jones, 14, died shortly after she was pulled from the water Tuesday at Land of Illusion Aqua Adventures water park off Thomas Road in Madison Township, near Middletown, according to the Butler County Sheriff's Office.(WXIX)
Published: Jul. 25, 2021 at 8:54 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2021 at 10:50 PM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - The manager of Land of Illusion Adventure Park where a 14-year-old girl possibly drowned last week posted an open letter to the community Sunday night.

This is the first lengthy, detailed statement from anyone at Land of Illusion since Mykiara Jones was pulled from the water about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 20, some 30 minutes after she went under, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Mykiara was flown to Children’s Hospital in Dayton, where she was pronounced dead, sheriff’s officials have said.

The Montgomery Coroner’s Office has not released her preliminary cause of death yet. The sheriff’s office has said they are investigating the incident as a possible drowning.

Last week, Sheriff Richard Jones announced he would be contacting the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for assistance.

Sheriff Jones says his office has received a wide range of complaints insinuating the water park portion of Land of Illusion, Aqua Adventures, has violated various regulations.

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

Mykiara was not wearing a life vest at the time she vanished under the water, Sheriff Jones said.

Hours before she died, the Butler County General Health District received an anonymous complaint the water park had no adult supervision and was over capacity and “unsafe and dangerous” three days prior, on Saturday, July 17, county records show.

On Friday, when FOX 19 NOW contacted Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, he responded: “Any loss of life is a tragedy—it’s even worse when it’s a child, a young life full of promise and possibilities. We are closely monitoring the investigation through local law enforcement and with our client agency, the Ohio Department of Agriculture.”

He also said: “My office has been in contact with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and we stand ready to assist.”

Services for Mykiara will be held Tuesday at Community Harvest Church, 6970 Weaver Road in Germantown, according to Donald Jordan Memorial Chapel.

Visitation will begin at 11 a.m., followed by her funeral at noon.

The teen, a freshman at Middletown High School, will be buried at West Memory Gardens, 6722 Hemple Road in Moraine.

The open letter from the park manager to the community and adventure park’s patrons is posted on its website.

Here it is in its entirety:

That a young child lost her life on July 20, 2021, at the Land of Illusion Adventure Park is devastating. All of us who work there grieve with the family and offer our prayers for strength at this time of unimaginable loss and pain. It is heartbreak no family should have to endure. It is also an experience that will forever impact every one of our team members, guests and first responders who joined or witnessed the rescue effort.

Cooperating with the authorities evaluating the events of that day and supporting our team members have been our priority. We are committed to supporting whatever investigations are required and proceeding with care and compassion for the grief that still hangs heavy over our community.

Our park has received many calls offering support. We appreciate the kind words shared in social media for the family of the young girl who lost her life, our team members and first responders. We are especially thankful to the many community groups and churches who are assisting our team members and first responders. While we’ve been cooperating with state and local officials since the incident, out of respect for the family we have not communicated about specific details of the July 20 tragedy. However, as the manager of the park I feel the need to address some of the confusion and concerns that understandably exist.

Commitment to safety

Our owner was a volunteer firefighter in Madison Township for 27 years. He opened Land of Illusion initially as a fundraiser for the local fire department. I share this because we prioritize issues regarding the safety of our guests and our employees. Extensive training and daily equipment checks are mandatory. We have invested in rescue equipment and specialized tools, including an AED defibrillator and a special swim chair designed for lake water rescue. Not only does our park satisfy all applicable regulations, we go above and beyond because of our commitment to safety. All park equipment in operation and available to guests also satisfies all applicable regulations.

We put extensive rules and requirements in place at Aqua Adventures Park for the safety of our guests. They are provided upon entry and posted in the park. We provide and fit guests with Coast Guard-approved life jackets. We devote extensive time, training and resources to limit risk to our visitors.

The July 20 incident

We have never had a tragedy like this at the Aqua Adventures Park. Contrary to some news media or social media reports, the incident did not occur on or near any of the park’s water inflatables. It did not occur on or near the Wibit apparatus.

While investigators will address the specifics of the incident in their official reports, we again want to express deep appreciation to our team and the first responders for their heroic efforts.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Our entire team grieves with the family and you and is deeply saddened by the awful tragedy that prompted this letter. Land of Illusion will continue to work with all appropriate officials throughout their investigations. We remain committed to being a fun and safe family destination.

Ryan Perry

Manager

Land of Illusion Adventure Park

For any additional inquires or updates please email info@landofillusion.com

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