identified gaps in our daily inspection program. Those gaps resulted in us not meeting our maintenance standards at our splash pads.”
Provided with the results of the investigation, Arlington Mayor Jim Ross used stronger language. In an interview with news channel WFAA, Ross said that he and his grandchildren use the city’s splash pads.
“Part of our job as city leaders is to protect our citizens, and we failed. We absolutely failed,” Ross said. “The best way to deal with this thing is to come straight down main street and own it. We screwed up. Make no mistake, I’m taking responsibility for this. This happened under my watch, and the buck stops here.”
On October 4, speaking at a news conference, the child’s parents, Tariq Williams and Kayla Mitchell, announced that they had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Arlington.
Standing alongside the boy’s parents, Stephen Stewart, the family’s attorney said, “We’re here today because the City of Arlington decided to ignore the very safety rules that protect all of us. When you have public amusements like the splash pad, you just have to step up and do what is mandated by the state of Texas, and they didn’t do it.”
While attorneys originally asked that the case go before a jury and were seeking more than $1 million in damages, on March 29, the Arlington City council approved a $250,000 settlement, the maximum allowed under state law in this case.
As part of the settlement, the city said that it will invest in health and safety improvements, including technology to automatically shut off splash pads where water readings aren’t in acceptable ranges. QR codes will allow visitors to see current information about water quality.
The city has updated and rewritten training materials for its staff.
It is also beginning to use an ultraviolet water treatment process for maintaining all current and future aquatic parks and splash pads. The changes will be known as the “Bakari Williams Protocol.”
The family says that without the promised changes the city says it will make at splash parks, the settlement money would have meant nothing.
“We want to make certain that nothing like this ever happens again,” said Bakari’s mother.