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6-year-old Dies from Deadly Bacteria, Family Sues

— December 3, 2020

Mom of boy who died after contracting bacterial infection at splash pad sues the city.

The parents of 6-year-old Josiah Castillo, who died after a becoming infected with deadly bacteria from a Lake Jackson fountain, have filed a lawsuit against city and the Brazosport Water Authority, alleging negligence in testing and providing proper treatment the water supply.  Castillo become ill after his grandparents took him to the splash pad, which is operated by the city of Lake Jackson.  He began to complain of an intense headache shortly afterwards and started to experience nausea and vomiting.

Castillo was taken to the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital in Angleton.  He died on September 8 after doctors were unable to pinpoint what was causing the boy’s illness.  Tests taken by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) later found naegleria fowleri, a deadly amoeba, in the fountain’s storage tank.

“The city, based on the known use that people were using (the fountain) for, had an obligation to keep the water properly chlorinated to keep kids safe out there, and they didn’t do that,” said Will Langley, an attorney for family.

6-year-old Dies from Deadly Bacteria, Family Sues
Phot by Frank McKenna on Unsplash

The deadly bacteria tends to infect people when contaminated water enters the nervous system through one’s nasal airways, according to the CDC.  Then, it travels quickly to the brain and can lead to primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a rare and serious disease, or it can be fatal.

Maria Castillo, Josiah’s mother, filed the lawsuit to draw awareness to the presence of this amoeba so other cities will be able to ensure the safety of their residents by caring for their water supplies.  She is seeking $1 million in damages and demanding a jury trial.

“I want to bring awareness to (the amoeba) and how real it is and how fast your life can change,” Castillo said. “For me, having to sit there and watch my son just decline because we don’t know what’s wrong, I don’t want any other parents or family members to have to go through that.”

Sherri Russell, the city attorney for Lake Jackson, responded, “It was a tragic death of a child.  We’ll take a look at (the lawsuit) and see how we want to proceed.”

Lake Jackson and all cities served by the Brazosport Water Authority began to boil water after receiving notice of the deadly bacteria.  The lawsuit suggests city officials and the water authority “should have known of an increased risk of naegleria fowleri infections after the Brazos River Authority issued a warning on May 26 that increasing temperatures and water conditions in area lakes and rivers were suitable for the spread of the disease that it causes.”

It states further, “The fountain, built in 1999, was not originally designed as a splash pad for kids, but rather as an interactive decoration that would be timed to music.  When that function failed, the city promoted it as a splash pad, and recognized that the water would need to be chlorinated as a result.  But the city did not set a chlorination schedule, and no records were kept of when the fountain was last treated” before Castillo’s death.


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