ARLINGTON, Texas (KETK) – The City of Arlington will implement stricter protections for public facilities after settling a lawsuit with the family of a 3-year-old boy who died after being infected by a brain-eating amoeba at a splash pad.
The AP reports that the Arlington City Council approved a $250,000 settlement with the parents of Bakari Williams on Tuesday.
Bakari was hospitalized last year after contracting primary amebic meningoencephalitis, which is a rare infection caused by naegleria fowleri amoeba. He died on Sept. 11, 2021.
City officials said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the presence of the amoeba in water samples from the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad. The city admitted they found gaps in conducting daily water tests at the splash pad.
Records from two of the four splash pads — at Don Misenhimer Park and the Beacon Recreation Center — reportedly show Parks and Recreation employees didn’t consistently record, or in some cases did not conduct, the water quality testing that’s required prior to the facilities opening each day.
“The City of Arlington, as part of its settlement with the Williams child’s family, is making a significant investment in the installation of health and safety equipment and other improvements for our public pools and splash pads,” a city spokesman said in a statement, according to NBCDFW. “This includes technology that will automatically shut off any splash pads where water readings are not in the acceptable ranges and the addition of QR codes that will allow visitors to see real-time information about water quality.”
They will now have “The Bakari Williams Protocol” to keep the city’s aquatic facilities safe. As part of the settlement, Arlington will invest in various health and safety improvements, including technology that shuts the water off automatically when readings are not in acceptable ranges. The city said it will also install signs with QR codes to allow people to see current information about water quality.
“We want you to know that Bakari was a sweet, beautiful and innocent child,” said Kayla Mitchell, Bakari’s mother. “He did not deserve to die in the manner that he did. For us, this case has been about public awareness. We want to make certain that nothing like this ever happens again. We want to make certain that what happened to our son, what happened to our family, doesn’t happen to anybody else. With the positive changes that the city has agreed to make, we are confident that we have met our goals.”