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Documents reveal septic tank where 3-year-old drowned not properly inspected

Amari Harley drowned after falling into Bruce Park septic tank

Amari Harley's body was found in a water tank at Bruce Park in Arlington.
Amari Harley's body was found in a water tank at Bruce Park in Arlington.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Recently obtained documents show the septic tank that a 3-year-old boy fell and drowned in was not being inspected by a licensed contractor, which is required by law. 

Amari Harley was reported missing Oct. 22 after he disappeared while playing at Bruce Park, where his family was attending a birthday party. 

Amari was reported missing about 4:30 p.m., and the search grew to involve dozens of officers, citizens and a helicopter. A Florida Missing Child Alert was issued at 7:15 p.m. His body was found later that night in an underground sewage tank at the park.

The Department of Children and Family Services was involved in the investigation into Amari's death, and official records show his cause of death was drowning.

News4Jax spoke with the family’s attorney, Kay Harper Williams, who said the family is taking legal action because the tank wasn’t properly inspected. 

Following Amari’s death, the Florida Department of Health contacted the city of Jacksonville asking who handles park inspections and the maintenance of lift stations. The city responded saying that a company called Environmental Remediation Services handles that responsibility. 

Williams told News4Jax that in the DOH’s investigation, records show that Environmental Remediation Services admitted to not having a licensed person oversee the septic tanks. 

“The way the report reads, I don't know at this time whether the contractor was not licensed under the Department of Health standards, or during the course of the contract, the contractor lost its licensing,” Williams said. 

DOH officials state in their report that “without licensed personnel, ERS was not permitted to work on the sewage treatment in any way.”

City officials and ERS could not be reached for comment.