Was the death of 3-year old Amari Harley preventable? Investigators looking for answers

First Coast News On Your Side's Ken Amaro investigates the death of a 3-year-old boy who was found in a water tank in Bruce Park on Sunday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- What happened at city owned Bruce Park that led to the death of a 3-year-old boy? His tiny body was discovered in the dosing tank of the park's sewage system.
 
"This should be preventable," John Glenn said.
 
Glenn an Arlington resident, parent, and a person who often uses Bruce Park was stunned to learn how the child died. He brought a bouquet of flowers to the site.
 
"You see plenty of city trucks, " he said, " I know the mayor and them are doing a good job, but this is preventable."
 
The child's body was recovered in a tank near the park's restrooms, a tank secured by a plastic lid.
 
"Believe me will be on this to find out what went wrong," Joyce Morgan said.
 
Morgan is the district councilman and the park is under her jurisdiction.
 
"My heart is saddened by this tragedy," she said.
 
 Bruce Park is one of 76 parks that have septic or lift stations for restroom sewage. There are more than 120 of the systems throughout the city and they're inspected every month.
 
On Jan. 30, there was CARE issue, a report to the city regarding the lid covering at Bruce Park.

On Feb. 13, the lid covering was secured, following an inspection. 
 
On Your Side traveled across the city to investigate ten parks, most of them the size of Bruce Park, to see if they were equipped with the same type of septic system and how they were secured.
 
Those that we found with a system near the restrooms were secured with metal coverings and behind a wired fence, unlike Bruce Park.
 
"I think we have a safe park system," said Councilman Doyle Carter.
 
Carter supports the park system, he uses it and said it is checked on a regular basis for potential hazards.
 
"I think by far they do a good job," Carter said. "But sometimes things happen. It breaks my heart." 
 
He said perhaps it is time to improve on the inspections.
 
The City of Jacksonville Parks and Recreation staff have been reviewing each of the parks in its 400 park system.
 
On Your Side was told the parks with septic systems use several types of lid coverings ranging from metal, fiberglass and concrete, which are attached with bolts, screws, or latches.
 
Bruce Park's system has a bolt covering.
 
On Your Side was told that it is inspected the 12th of every month and all operations were noted as OK, meaning it passed all inspections.
 
The Mayor was not available for an interview but provided this statement: 
 
"We are so incredibly saddened by this tragedy.  As JSO conducts its investigation, the City is assisting them by providing any information that will lead to a thorough and full review.

The City is also inspecting and analyzing how this tragedy may have occurred, to ensure that all City parks are safe and secure. The safety and security of visitors to City parks are paramount."

Mayor Lenny Curry spoke with the family of Amari Harley and expressed his condolences.
 
John Harrell with the Department of Children and Families said a team of his investigators is also looking into the death of the 3-year-old boy.
 
DCF wants to know if, among several things, if he was well supervised.
 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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