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The parents of a toddler who died after being infected with Naegleria fowleri—also known as "brain-eating amoeba"—after playing at a city-owned splash pad in Arlington, Texas are suing the city for negligence.
Bakari Williams visited the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad with his parents often, but began feeling unwell almost immediately after they left the park.
His parents reported he was severely lethargic, and his temperature quickly spiked to over 102 degrees Fahrenheit. He died on September 11 from the parasitic infection.
Bakari's mother, Kayla Mitchell, told reporters:
"Nothing could knock him down, so I knew something was wrong."
Bakari's father, Tariq Williams, said:
"Bakari was a loving, energetic, passionate, sweet, beautiful and innocent boy. He didn't deserve to die in this manner."
One of the family's attorneys, Stephen Stewart, commented:
"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."
He was pulling no punches during the press conference, continuing:
"A little chlorine and this child would have been here today."
The parents' lawsuit came after the city admitted the testing logs for the water at the splash pad were inconsistent.
Daily testing is mandated by the state but—according to records shared by Fox4's Peyton Yager—testing occurred as little as 36 times in the 100 days the splash pad was operating.
This is Bakari Williams. The 3yo died from a brain eating amoeba traced back to a @CityOfArlington splash pad. To… https://t.co/8LxXWWbMja— Peyton Yager (@Peyton Yager) 1633396008.0
The lawsuit points to @CityOfArlington’s failure to conduct daily testing, which is mandated by the state. Since t… https://t.co/msBeCPpHSc— Peyton Yager (@Peyton Yager) 1633400540.0
@peytonyager @CityOfArlington @FOX4 Absolutely heartbreaking— Frank Lloyd Left (@Frank Lloyd Left) 1633400640.0
@peytonyager @FOX4 @CityOfArlington So sad! Many prayers to the family 😔— countrygirl (@countrygirl) 1633397929.0
The Naegleria fowleri is a parasitic single-celled organism that can cause a rare but deadly condition called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The infection occurs when contaminated water enters the nose and travels to the brain.
According to the CDC, infections normally occur when people swim in infected warm fresh water like lakes and rivers, but it can occur in "inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water."
The couple are seeking over $1 million in damages and the city has 20 days to respond to the suit.
Williams said the suit is largely to bring awareness to this problem.
" 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."