The grieving parents of a young boy who died after catching a rare-brain-eating amoeba at a water park in Arlington, Texas, are now suing the city for $1 million.
3-year-old Bakari Williams passed away from amebic meningoencephalitis on September 11 after he caught the amoeba at Don Misenhimer Park splash pad.
Parents Kayla Mitchell and Tariq Williams said they are suing the city of Arlington to create public awareness about the disease.
“For us this case is about public awareness. The last thing that we want is for anyone else and their family to have to feel and go through what we are going through at this time,” Williams said.
Their family attorney said: “If you’re going to offer this form of public amusement, you’ve got to do it right. It’s too serious not to. It’s life and death.”
The lawsuit was filed in Tarrant County District Court.
“On behalf of our family and our friends we just want you to know that Bakari was a loving, energetic, passionate, sweet, beautiful, innocent boy,” Williams expressed.
“He didn’t deserve to die in this manner.”
Bakari and his family went to Don Misenhimer Park in August and September. On September 5, the 3-year-old boy started feeling unwell and had a 102-degree fever.
“All he wanted to do was lay down,” Mitchell recalled. “Nothing could knock him down, so I knew something was wrong.”
The heartbroken mother warned parents of children who also showed alarming symptoms after visiting a water park to “forget about the urgent care center and go straight to the hospital.”
Officials in Arlington said Tarrant County Public Health and the city were notified that Bakari had been hospitalized. Health officials closed all of the city’s public splash pads and started their investigation.
Tarrant county Public Health Department “determined two possible sources for the child’s exposure to water containing Naegleria fowleri: the family’s home in Tarrant County or the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad in Arlington.”
Officials say records from two of the four splash pads at the Don Misenhimer Park and the Beacon Recreation Center show Parks and Recreation staff did not consistently conduct or record the water quality testing required before opening the facilities each day.
Of the 100 days the park operated, the water quality was only recorded for 60 days.
“(A review) identified gaps in our daily inspection program. Those gaps resulted in us not meeting our maintenance standards at our splash pads,” said Deputy City Manager Lemuel Randolph.
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