Brain-Eating Amoeba Kills Toddler; Parents Sue Texas City

Photo: (Photo : Arek Socha/Pixabay)

The parents of a 3-year-old boy have filed a lawsuit against the city of Arlington in Texas after their son died from contracting a brain-eating amoeba, believed to be in the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad.

Bakari Williams succumbed to the complications caused by the brain-eating amoeba in his frail body. The parents are asking for a million dollars in damages from the city as they failed to ensure that the public splash pad would be tested and cleaned daily.

Stephen Stewart, the family's lawyer, said that the splash pad did not have any chlorine and was not tested for at least 64 days. It was open to the public for 100 days before the incident. Officials from the Arlington City Hall had admitted to a human error and said they were negligent about the tests and treatments required of the splash pad. 

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What Happened to Bakari Williams?

Bakari and his parents frequently visited the splash pad as this was his favorite spot. He loved to play amid the blue whale and yellow-green turtle fountain with the palm tree showers.

However, following their visit to the park last September 5, Bakari quickly fell sick at home and had a 102 to 103-degree fever. The next day, Bakari did not want to eat and could not get up to go to the bathroom. His parents said he was too weak to stand up, so they took him to the hospital. He died on September 11.

Tests sent in by the hospital to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that Bakari was infected by a brain-eating amoeba known as the Naegleria fowleri. Reports showed that the rare amoeba likely entered Bakari's body through his nose, which quickly got to his brain, and caused primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a fatal infection. The CDC also confirmed that the splash pad's water samples had the presence of the amoeba.

Arlington officials shut down the splash pads after the CDC released their findings and conducted investigations among its parks and recreation employees. The city has four other splash pads that were also not properly tested and treated as they fell under the minimum requirement for chlorination levels.

Lemuel Randolph, Arlington's deputy city manager, confirmed that they had identified the gaps in their maintenance programs. He admitted that their system failed to meet the standards. Arlington Mayor Jim Ross also took responsibility for the family's loss and said the screw-up happened during his watch.

Second Death in the Family

This was the second death in the Williams family after losing another child in 2109 to sudden infant death syndrome. Tariq Williams, Bakari's dad, lamented that his son "did not deserve to die in this manner" as he was a loving, sweet and innocent boy.

The family's lawyer said that the city's negligence was unacceptable, knowing that bad things could happen if the public park's facilities were not well-maintained. Because of the incident, all splash pads in the city will be closed for the remainder of the year.

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