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Boy dies from brain-eating amoeba found at splash pad; parents sue Texas city

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 7:33 AM CDT
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ARLINGTON, Texas (KTVT) - A family is suing the city of Arlington after their 3-year-old died from a rare brain-eating amoeba.

They say he got it after visiting a splash pad that Arlington failed to treat properly.

The Don Misenhimer Park splash pad was a favorite destination of Bakari Williams and his family, but the day after an early September visit, the 3-year-old fell ill.

“All he wanted to do was lay down, so I automatically knew there was something wrong right there and then,” said Kayla Mitchell, the boy’s mother.

He was diagnosed with an infection caused by the rare Naelgleria fowleri amoeba and died on Sept. 11.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later confirmed the presence of the brain-eating amoeba at the splash pad.

“Bakari was a loving, energetic, passionate, sweet, beautiful, innocent boy. He didn’t deserve to die in this manner,” said Tariq Williams, the boy’s father.

The family’s attorneys said Bakari’s death was caused by the city of Arlington’s negligence.

Records show that the city did not properly treat or test the water daily, as is required by the state.

“That’s simply unacceptable. If a splash pad amusement is left untested, if the water is left untreated, bad things happen,” said Stephen Stewart, the family’s attorney.

City officials said that they have identified gaps in their daily inspection program and have closed all of their splash pads for the remainder of the year, but attorneys said that’s not enough.

This was the family’s second tragedy, having lost a child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 2019.

Their lawsuit asks for more than $1 million, but Bakari’s family said it’s about public awareness more than anything.

“The last thing that we want is for anyone else and their family to have to feel and go through what we’re going through at this time,” Williams said.

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