Mark McCown: Water park patrons must obey the rules

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 28, 2022

Dear Lawyer Mark: I was at a water park with my family last week, and saw the lifeguard talk to a little boy.

The boy was trying to use the wrong inner tubes for his ride. They had their signs up that said which tubes could be used on which slides.

The lifeguard looked like she was about 15 herself, and the kid’s dad came over and started yelling at her about what a stupid rule it was and he didn’t have to do it if he didn’t want to.

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She handled it good. She told him if he didn’t stop and listen to her she could have him arrested. You hear people say that all the time. That got me wondering, can she actually do that? What should the police do if they got called into that mess? — Water Slider

Dear Slider: Yes, she could, as there is a statute dealing with this.

Under Ohio Revised Code section 1711.551, amusement park riders must heed all written instructions and directions at the park, including those that order a rider to behave in a specific manner, or refrain from taking certain actions. The riders must not also act in a way that could harm themselves or other riders. A water park in Ohio is considered an amusement park.

In your case, the signs indicated that the riders are supposed to use specific equipment for each ride. If they refuse to do that, they can be ejected from the park, and also cited with a violation of the above statute. The dad could have been found in violation of it, as well as being considered guilty of disorderly conduct.

If somebody violates the statute by ignoring the warnings, Revised Code section 1711.99 provides that the first offense is a minor misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $150. Every violation after that is a fourth degree misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 30 days in jail and $250 fine.

As for what should the police do, that is going to depend upon what the management requests. If the management is just wanting to defuse the situation, the police may just have a conversation with the dad and kid, and let it go at that.

If the management is concerned about making an example of them and are demanding some formal action, then the police may write the dad a citation so that the other amusement park riders see the possible consequences of not following the rules.

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.