Amari Harley Playground in Arlington honoring toddler who tragically drowned in septic tank

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Dozens gathered at Bruce Park in Arlington Friday for the unveiling of Amari Harley Playground.

The event comes almost three-and-a-half years after the 3-year-old boy drowned when he fell inside an unsecured septic tank.

Today, the sounds of kids playing at Bruce Park fill the air.

They get to play here now in a much safer park than it was in 2017.

“They should be able to go to parks and not have a care in the world,” said Kay Harper Williams, attorney for Amari’s family. “This is a day of celebration. It’s a culmination of a battle that we fought to get answers for, and justice for Amari Harley.”

Action News Jax was in this same spot in October 2017. Back then, it was filled with police after Amari disappeared.

His body was later found at the bottom of a septic tank that had been left unsecured at the city park.

“Amari would’ve been 7, his birthday just passed February 20. In my heart, our hearts, it will never be the same,” said Jasmine Bates, Amari’s mom.

That septic tank is fenced in now and secured with a padlock. It sits just steps away from the plaque that bears Amari’s name.

“It is a bittersweet moment, but I’m just glad that they have a safe place to come and enjoy where we know Amari’s spirit lives,” said Bates.

Laura Romine’s son is the same age Amari was. Bringing her son to play at Amari Harley Playground will now carry a deeper meaning.

“Just people seeing his name and hearing about the story, his memory will live on,” said Romine.

Toward the end of the plaque it reads, “Amari always dreamed of becoming a superhero so he could protect and defend the innocent. He particularly loved Captain America. At Amari Harley Playground, children can pretend to be superheroes … Thank you Captain Amari! Forever our hero!”

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