Underground tanks at 76 Jacksonville parks inspected monthly

City calls Amari's death tragic, is cooperating with police investigation

By Jim Piggott - Reporter, Erik Avanier - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The death of 3-year-old Amari Harley in a Jacksonville park Sunday evening has many asking how this could happen at a place where children are supposed to be safe.

The city said the underground tank in which Amari's body was found is part of the sewage system used at Bruce Park in Arlington, and the city said similar tanks are in use at 76 other parks. City workers were out early Monday screwing makeshift wooden covers onto the opening of the tank in which Amari died.

John Glenn brought flowers to the park Monday to pay his respects to the little boy, but he also came with many questions.

"(A) park is a place where kids are supposed to come and have fun," Glenn said. "To me, this was preventable. This should be preventable. This is just sad. It hurt me. I was up all night just thinking this little boy, this poor little boy."

On Monday, News4Jax found some tanks near restroom facilities at city parks, and they all were sealed. At the Lions Club Park in Arlington, they have metal covers and are padlocked.

The city said Monday the tanks are inspected each month. A city spokeswoman said the one at Bruce Park was inspected on Sept. 12 and it was OK.

According to city records obtained by the I-TEAM, the city of Jacksonville knew on February 13, 2017 there was an issue with the lid on the well at Bruce Park. Notes from a Feb. 13, 2017, city report read, “entryway to wet well needs to be secured to tank top.” On Monday, a spokesperson for the city said the top was secured after that inspection.

City Councilwoman Joyce Morgan, who represents Arlington, was also at the park on Monday. She is grieving for the boy and his family and said she has many of the same questions as Glenn.

"Believe me, we will be on this and try to figure out exactly what happened and what went wrong and where we go from here," Morgan said.

Morgan held a previously scheduled town meeting in her district Monday night, during which Amari's death was a major topic of discussion.  

VIDEO: Town hall meeting addresses 3-year-old boy's tragic death

At the beginning, members of the town hall panel expressed their condolences to Amari's family.

"I think we all want to send out our deepest sympathies to this family because this is just horrific and we're all saddened," Morgan said.

Investigators said the tank in which Amari’s body was found did have a lid, but the status of that lid was uncertain. During the town hall meeting, a JSO officer told the crowd one thing was certain. 

“There is no evidence at this time of foul play in regards to this case," the officer said. 

Though there's still many questions that need answers, for right now, one member of the town hall panel said Amari’s family needs prayers.

“We ask you to surround the family of Amari Harley with your love," he said.

The Sheriff's Office continues to investigate.

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