• After toddler's death, Jacksonville leaders silent on whether other tanks have rubber lids

    By: Jenna Bourne, Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Three days after a toddler’s body was found in a public park’s underground tank, the city of Jacksonville is not answering questions about whether other tanks in public parks could pose the same risk.

    Search crews found 3-year-old Amari Harley’s body in an underground tank at Bruce Park in Arlington on Sunday, hours after he disappeared from a family gathering there.

    In an exclusive interview on Wednesday, Amari’s family attorney Kay Harper Williams told Action News Jax the parents are convinced the lid of the tank was not secure.

    “Had the septic tank been properly covered and secured, Amari would have never ended up in it. It’s that simple,” said Williams.

    The lids on the septic tank and dosing tank at Bruce Park were replaced on Tuesday with concrete lids.

    Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said the lids were made of rubber when Amari disappeared.

    It was a departure from an email sent by city spokesperson Marsha Oliver the day before, saying the septic tank lids at 76 public parks are made of metal, fiberglass and concrete.

    Rubber was not on that list.

    Within the past 24 hours, the city has failed to respond to three Action News Jax emails asking the same question: Are there other tanks on city property with the same rubber lids?

    “There is an expectation that the safety precautions at the city’s park facilities would be standardized, monitored and maintained,” said Williams. “Not only should the family get answers, but every parent, every grandparent, every member of this community should want answers because this truly could have been anyone’s child.”

    Williams said Amari’s parents want two things from the city.

    First, she said they want answers about how their little boy who loved superheroes and football wound up the tank.

    Second, they want change.

    “Amari’s parents are having a difficult time trying to explain to Amari’s 6-year-old brother why he’s never coming home,” said Williams. “The next step is for us to address how changes can be made going forward so that this doesn’t happen to someone else’s child.”

    Williams said, at first, Amari’s parents assumed he’d been abducted from the park.

    “Amari’s mom learned that they found him at the park. So her reaction was somewhat relief, I guess, that whoever had him brought him back,” said Williams.

    That relief quickly turned to anguish when JSO explained that her son had been in the park all along.

    Williams said investigators have not given the family any indication of how Amari wound up in the tank.

    She said the family wants the city to reevaluate its safety standards for city parks.

     

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