JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry is speaking out following the tragic death of 3-year-old Amari Harley, who was found unresponsive in a water tank hole in Arlington's Bruce Park Sunday night.
The plastic lids that covered the holes in the park were removed Monday and wooden lids were drilled on top. On Tuesday, public works removed the wooden lids and added cement coverings.
Mayor Curry said it’s part of their efforts to ensure the safety and security of all city parks as they work with JSO on the investigation into Amari’s death to see if it was preventable.
“My first priority will always be public safety and I expect every single person who works for this city to share that sense of purpose,” Curry said. “When all of the facts are known, I will ensure there is accountability.”
Curry would not comment on whether or not the City could face charges if found liable. He answered few questions regarding details of the tank covers and their inspections and told First Coast News that all details were to remain under wraps until the investigation was complete.
It was clear that he called the press conference to tell the media that he was an active part of the investigation and that he has been in contact with Amari’s family, rather than disclose any information on the case.
“What Amari’s family went through is unimaginable,” Curry said. “As a father with young kids it is heartbreaking to see a day of fun and family enjoyment become a nightmare.”
Curry said he did not want to comment on his “private conversation” with the family.
First Coast News found two complaints filed to the city about Bruce Park’s water tanks, which proved the tank covers have been a recurring issue at least the past two years.
The first complaint dates back to April of 2016. The report to the city's Public Works Department read, “please check septic tank cover needs to be refastened and locked down.”
Another complaint is from January 2017. The report read, “This is Bruce park in Arlington … next to the restroom area is an uncovered hole with water and sewage trash. Parsons school uses this park daily along with children who come to this park in the afternoon”
The City said it fixed the January issue the day after it was filed.
However, an inspection report from February, just two weeks after that issue was “fixed," another problem was reported. The inspection found that the "entryway to wet well needs to be secured to tank to."
Inspection from that date through September were all marked “all ops ok."
Mayor Curry would not comment on what makes an inspection “ok," but told us that was part of the investigation, as well.
On Tuesday afternoon, JSO sent evidence technicians to the park to gather the original plastic water tank covers in bags.
As they were gathering evidence from the scene two days after Harley's death, more and more people came out to the park to drop off balloons and say prayers at a memorial that has been left for Harley. The family said a vigil will be help in the park for Harley on Wednesday night.