Family of 3-year-old infected by brain-eating amoeba at Arlington splash pad sues city

The parents of a 3-year-old boy who died after contracting a rare, brain-eating amoeba at an Arlington splash pad have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Bakari Williams’ parents said they want to spread public awareness about his tragic death. The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages.

RELATED: CDC: Child infected by deadly brain-eating amoeba at Arlington splash pad

"Bakari was a loving, energetic, passionate, sweet, beautiful, innocent boy. He didn’t deserve to die in this manner," said Tariq Williams, his father. "For us this case is about public awareness. The last thing that we want is for someone else and their family to have to feel and go through what we’re going through at this time."

The 3-year-old died on Sept. 11 after being hospitalized at Cook Children’s Hospital for a week.

His mother, Kayla Mitchell, said he was a big ball of energy and loved playing at the Don Misenhimer Park splash pad. They had gone several times in the weeks leading up to his death.

But a day after the final visit, mom said Bakari developed a high fever of 102 degrees and didn’t even have enough strength to go to the bathroom on his own.

"From there it was like he didn’t want to eat. He didn’t want to drink. All he wanted to do was lay down so I automatically knew there was something wrong right there and then because like I said he’s just a very, very active child," Mitchell said. 

After he was infected, water samples sent to the Centers for Disease confirmed the splash pad was the source of the naegleria fowleri amoeba.


The deadly amoeba is often found in warm, freshwater lakes and streams. It can also be found in swimming pools and water parks that are not properly chlorinated.

Arlington Mayor Jim Ross has admitted splash pad maintenance errors. The city of Arlington previously said Parks and Recreation employees did not consistently record, or in some cases did not conduct, required, daily water quality testing at two locations -- Don Misenhimer Park and the Beacon Recreation Center.

"We don't want another innocent child to die from a brain eating amoeba. That's crazy coming out of my mouth a brain-eating amoeba. A little chlorine and this child would be here today," said Stephen Stewart, family attorney.

The city immediately closed down all splash pads and they remain dry.

Bakari’s family is seeking damages in excess of $1 million. 

"The city of Arlington is responsible for Bakari’s death. Bakari’s death was 100% preventable. We’re here today because the city of Arlington decided to ignore the very safety rules that protect all of us," said Brian Hargrove, family attorney.

"The parents of Bakari do not want another innocent child to face the demise that Bakari did," added Stewart.

The suit also asks the city of Arlington comply with state guidelines for water park safety.

The city has not yet commented on the lawsuit.