Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park title=
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park
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(courtesy photo)

By edhat staff

Parents of a 4-year-old boy who was pricked by a hypodermic needle at a local park are demanding answers from the City of Santa Barbara.

Hayes Parrish was recently playing at Plaza De Vera Cruz in Santa Barbara when he found a used hypodermic needle and was accidentally pricked, drawing blood. His parents have retained legal counsel from A. Barry Cappello, managing partner of Cappello & Noël LLP, and are expecting the city to address the issue they believe stem from transients and drug addicts in the park.

Cappello sent a letter on October 18 to Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo, City Administrator Paul Casey and city councilmembers stating the city has turned a blind eye to the drug dangers at this park.

He states in the letter, "We are informed that emergency responders are regularly summoned to this park for drug-related incidents multiple times per month. The City Police Department is likewise aware of these conditions and the danger posed to the children that come to use the play structure installed by the city at this park. The treating doctor at the emergency room knew this to be one of the most common places for addicts in the city. The city was aware of the transient and drug problems at Plaza De Vera Cruz. In fact, anyone who drives by this park on Haley Street on any given day is likely to see half a dozen or more homeless lounging about, drinking and doing drugs in broad daylight."

Cappello further stated that his client has had to undergo an intensive course of drug therapy equivalent to chemotherapy and will have to be repeatedly re-tested for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, incurring thousands in medical expenses. "Even though we all hope he will be lucky and not contract any life-threatening disease," Cappello wrote in the letter, "the full extent of his injury, such as the potential long-term effects of his drug therapy, will not be known for years."

The family stated their goal is not litigation, but for the Santa Barbara City Council to immediately take substantial steps to prevent these types of incidents from happening again. Cappello is requesting that an item be placed on a City Council agenda within the next 30 days to discuss the lack of safe parks for children in the community.

Santa Barbara City Attorney Ariel Calonne released the following statement to KEYT:

"Mr. Cappello is welcome to speak to the City Council during public comment.  Under the state open meeting law, the Brown Act, the Council is not permitted to discuss this matter today solely on the basis of Mr. Cappello’s letter."

"I know I speak for the entire City when I say that, as a parent, I can’t imagine anything worse than a serious injury to my child.  Until we know the facts of what happened, however, there is no reason to believe the City and taxpayers are legally or morally responsible for what appears to be the behavior of an illicit drug user. "

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shorebird Oct 28, 2018 09:33 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

I haven’t read all the comments but did anyone suggest tamperproof needle disposal boxes for all parks? And for “needle park” some video cameras accompanied by signs at all entrances that says. “This Area Under Video Surveillance.”

a-1553030447 Oct 28, 2018 10:36 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

New park being built in Goleta; need day AND night supervision. Keep it safe, don't try to play catch up. When I used to sail my boat, the saying was "better to stay dry than try to get dry". If the drug addicts don't get used to using the new park, you have a better chance of keeping the public, babies included, healthy and alive.

beachsong Oct 28, 2018 10:31 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

In Paris France they had playground supervisors. I don't know if they were paid, but probably. The playgrounds were so safe that parents could drop off their children and feel their kids were safe. I recommend due to budget concerns that the city organize volunteer supervisors. They would scan the area upon arrival and remove beer cans, plastic bags, dog poop, yes even condoms. Inform the police if needed re: needles.

a-1553030447 Oct 29, 2018 03:24 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

I realize you were not necessarily proposing kids on their own, but I didn't see parental supervision in your post either. Half-kidding. We are/were so lucky to be able to play on our own. What a loss.

a-1553030447 Oct 29, 2018 03:23 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

But also a wholly different culture. And with few guns. Never here, my gods parents get TICKETED for letting their kids walk their pets in their neighborhood, walk to and from school and neighborhood parks! I'm SO GLAD I grew up decades ago, when we had what is now called "free range parenting"!!!

a-1553030447 Oct 25, 2018 11:59 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

I believe San Diego recently had a Hep C outbreak b/c of transients as well. That is probably next. I do not touch or sit on any benches on State Street and instructed my family not to do so as well when they visit. That will probably be the next lawsuit coming down the pike unless the City does something. Unfortunately, they haven't cared b/c it hasn't cost them anything and it's sad that only hitting them in their pockets will make them act. Shows they really don't care.

a-1553030447 Oct 29, 2018 03:36 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

San Diego was a Hep A outbreak. Many died. The homeless died from not having toilet and hand-washing facilities. They're not all threats to us. Everyone deserves facilities. ====================== ****** What happened to our acknowledgment that so many of us are one illness or job loss or earthquake or partner death or some horror like one of our kids dying, or whatever away from homelessness or bankruptcy?! ****** ======================================================== And yes, I AM wrestling with how to help. I help, for decades, a woman and her productive now high school grad child. ======================================================== Do I share some $? Tiny house in the yard? No, I don't even want a millionaire or any type of roommate. That's just me. I'll settle for my MedAlert bracelet. But I've helped several families exist. I hope they, and I, do more. I'll keep on trying. Be your OWN Unity Shoppe or Catholic Charity. Find someone you can help keep their head above water. It's gratifying.

a-1553030447 Oct 26, 2018 06:52 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Some interesting proposals in this thread to clean up our parks and make them safe for families and children. How about some 'tough love'. Here's my modest proposal. Don't allow adults in the park unless they are accompanied by a child. Turn the parks into true 'children's parks' for a set time, like three months. Let the kids play at their structures or play with their teams or under their parents' supervision, without the fear of needles, drug addicts, and homeless. Once the kids are safe again, then let the unaccompanied adults back in, a few at a time. Seriously, this situation with our public spaces needs to be made a #1 issue with the City Council. Let's pick a day and show up at a City Council meeting during public comment and insist this issue is put on every agenda until it is addressed and our parks become the recreational areas they are supposed to be.

Stefana Oct 25, 2018 11:54 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Sadly, I cannot think of one park - maybe Shoreline - that doesn't have a transient problem. I live near Oak Park, which also has several play structures - and there is a bad transient problem there, the cops are constantly being called there for a fight or something else, one thing or another. I'm glad we did not take my nephew there when he was here this summer.

sacjon Oct 25, 2018 11:11 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

There are really only 2 viable options: 1) REMOVE the playground equipment if the City intends to keep allowing drug use at this park (which has been going on since I was a kid 30+ years ago); or 2) PATROL and clean up the park so it is no longer a known place to get high without fear of arrest. It's pretty simple. Don't put lipstick on the pig by keeping a playground at a known drug park. You can't keep making it a "desirable" location for both drug users and kids. Pick one and adjust the park accordingly.

a-1553030447 Oct 25, 2018 11:13 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

SACJON totally agree, and that is the point of this lawsuit. This is what the City should have done a long time ago. In addition to removing the play structures, there should be signs warning people to watch where they walk as there may be needles, etc.

343532 Oct 25, 2018 10:40 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

The nehiborhood of that park has given up. If this was going on in my neighborhood there would be a group of residents (big mean dads) patrolling and raising hell every day. The druggies wouldn’t last a week, They would be so buzz killed.

a-1553030447 Oct 25, 2018 10:15 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Hey people saying, what can the City do - look up "attractive nuisance". The city installed a play structure in a park that is "known" as "needle park" OMG no wonder Capello took this case. Cha-ching let that cash register ring!

a-1553030447 Oct 25, 2018 10:10 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

I truly hope some of these commenters never have to deal with their child being pricked by a dirty needle in a public park, with possibility of lifetime illness. I think some of these commenters would be singing a different tune if that ever happens.

a-1553030447 Oct 25, 2018 10:08 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Wow, the level of complacency in some of these comments is so so sad. What do people not understand about it being a 'public park"? What do people not understand about CIty responsibility for the public park? What if these were tourists who did not know what locals know? What if these were new people to the area, or visiting? The City can do alot of things INCLUDING putting up signs that clearly say, drug use in park, needles may be around, dont' come here with kids or at all. So when you think of it that way, then they need to be, every day, going through the park and picking up needles and such.

sb93105 Oct 25, 2018 08:08 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

This is the result of allowing transients, drug addicts and sellers to control our town they have far more rights then we. From a dead body on a populated hillside on the Westside, fires on the side of the FWY and needles on the ground. Downtown you can see and smell feces, urine, drugs & naked drunks at noon- Good for the Funk Zone and the new construction for cleaning up the lower end- and any business that takes this risk. Demand more from all elected officials and promote business minded leaders-

Shasta Guy Oct 24, 2018 10:42 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

My world was changed when I found a butterfly knife at the swings in Kids World. As a parent you can't be careful enough anymore. These parents may have been incredibly naive, but in the end it was some addict leaving a needle in a place where kids play. Tolerate public drug use and expect more of this. I feel so sorry for the boy, and I hope he does not get a lifelong virus. Don't expect a strung out addict to be responsible for their bloody needle. They shouldn't be doing that there in the first place. The fact that they are means we have stopped caring.

a-1553030447 Oct 29, 2018 04:16 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

To parents, Rex and everyohne: IS it obvious? I can't get out much and never did have a child. What if the parents were from out of town? is the family local?

REX OF SB Oct 25, 2018 07:56 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Of course parents should be able to let their kids play in all parks. The reality is that many of our local parks are hangouts for hardcore drug users, which is obvious to any visitor to these parks/playgrounds. Rather than risk my chid being exposed to used needles and other filth, I think I'd just avoid the area altogether. IMO, any parent who allows their child to pay in such an environment is guilty of neglect. Of course the City should "do something," but until it does (and don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen), accept the fact that the chances are high that kids WILL encounter discarded needles, etc.

a-1553030447 Oct 25, 2018 07:11 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Rex, parents and their children should be able to use any park and any location in that public park. That's what public parks are all about. The city should allocate a monitor who travels from park to park daily and who will actively move the vagrants along. People might say the homeless have every right to be there. I would argue back that parents will not go where vagrants are congregating and storing their belongings because of the health issues they present, so their very presence is preventing families and others from using these public spaces. I just watched a soccer practice for 5 year olds who reserve a small section of La Mesa Park. They had to walk around some young guy passed out on the grass right where they practice. He didn't move the whole time we were there. Come on, SB, we have to do better if we are going to make SB a city where families feel safe. When the City Council was talking about the new dog park in MacKenzie Park, did they even mention the problem with the homeless there? Or is the dog park their solution to cleaning out the homeless?

REX OF SB Oct 24, 2018 08:56 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Since my comment got down voted, here's a (very) brief synopsis of what it said: Any parent who is stupid enough to let its four-year-old play in a "park" that is the staging area for drug users to ply their trade has no business suing the City for culpability in something the parent could have easily prevented. No one takes responsibility for their own actions any more.

SantaBarbaraObserver Oct 25, 2018 09:08 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Rex, On average 50k "tourists / transients" roll through our town every single day. So are you saying that every one of them knows that this is a park to be avoided? Good grief. When the waves are too high on sea wall, they close it. When a rail breaks, the close the trail. When a sidewalk cracks, they fix it. Where is the city's oversight on this so-called "needle park" to keep people safe? Its nowhere. Not a single sign, not a single warning and not a single person stepping up to take responsibility. (Murillo where are you?) The #1 most important role of the city's government city is public safety. Everything else is secondary and/or unnecessary. You seem to think you have your finger on the pulse, but those of us who have read your rants and tirades over the last decade have a very different take on your views... Maybe, just maybe you are the one who "doesn't get it"? Over and out...

REX OF SB Oct 25, 2018 09:00 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

SBOBSERVER: You simply don't get it. OF COURSE kids should be able to play on local playgrounds, but there is now extreme danger in doing so. Just because the playgrounds are there doesn't automatically make them safe. The issue at hand, however, is this: a child's parent(s) let their child play at a park/playground that is KNOWN to be a dangerous area. To say, "well, it's a playground, the child should have been able to play there," overlooks the main question. Perhaps you should stick to commenting on things that you understand.

SantaBarbaraObserver Oct 25, 2018 08:08 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Rex, I think the very definition of a park may have been lost on you. Maybe stick to complaining about the demise of affordable fast food options instead? Those types of topics seem to suit your character better than trying to blame a child or his parents for a public safety failure by the city, the parks dept and the Mayor. A child was pricked by a hypodermic needle! We have an huge number of bums and addicts living on our streets with more arriving daily and the city is focused on how to attract more cruise ships, increasing the ToT and petty issues like banning plastic straws... Dont you see the problem here? Our mayor is an abject failure on practically every measure except how to increase debt, taxes and push us further into insolvency.

CoastWatch Oct 25, 2018 07:33 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Hey Rex- If a park, ANY park, has a PLAYGROUND with PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT, it attracts kids and tells a parent that it is kid friendly locale. If the City provides a green space for vagrants, it should NOT have a PLAYGROUND with swings and climbing structures. Ortega Park is ANOTHER park that is a vagrant park that has had its issues. As long as Santa Barbara writes annual checks for over a MILLION dollars every year for vagrants support, this will continue- That MILLION dollars plus a year could be going to make SB a non-tolerant bum location, but hell will freeze before that ever happens with the politicians that get voted in... I wonder what Hanna Beth Jackson and Das Williams take is on this...? BTW- This is the NORM in San Francisco.

a-1553030447 Oct 24, 2018 08:43 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

For those of you who are bashing Cathy Murillo, our Mayor: //////////1) She is working tirelessly for everyone in SB so we can have a better life. /////////2) Jobs, jobs, jobs is what she has created....need a high-paying job?....just pluck one off the job tree that she planted on Day 1. //////////3) Our streets have never been safer. ////////4) City workers are more satisfied since she took office, and certainly appear to be happy to serve. ////////5) Last....Cathy may have done more in her short term as mayor than Helene and Marty did....combined!!

a-1553030447 Oct 29, 2018 03:52 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

I feel stupid even replying about the downvote issue. In other words, this board's readers can't see /s when it's right in front of them... Please read the yay Cathy post again. (giggling and snorting)

a-1553030447 Oct 29, 2018 03:49 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Don't downvote!! do you want the focus of your scorn and resentment to be hidden and unreadable? Of course I don't think this is actually her. But this disappearing by downvoting infuriates me. Speak up and REPLY, don't hide the darn post!

SantaBarbaraObserver Oct 26, 2018 07:10 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

I believe the <Sarcasm / tag is missing from this post. Although, sadly, your last sentence may actually be true if you count debt and untenable financial burdens as accomplishments...

a-1553030447 Oct 25, 2018 10:19 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

MTN DRIVER: how about taking down play structures at every park with this problem ? Why is the city attracting kids and parents to these parks with play structures? IT's called an attractive nuisance and the City is responsible

mtndriver Oct 24, 2018 07:46 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

If it was my kid I would have chosen a different park. But I agree it's a problem that we need to address--the question is HOW! Just throwing stones at the City isn't going to help. Any solution requires investment either in police presence, some kind of staff, ways of separating areas for kids from the rest of park areas, gettin people off drugs, something practical!

a-1553030447 Oct 24, 2018 05:51 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Shut down "Needle Park." "Shut down the playground." " The City is responsible." Blah blah blah. The users will only move to another locale. If you're alive, things are bound to happen to you. Four years old is old enough to know not to pick up anything sharp, much less play with it------I know: I used to be four years old once upon a time. (If this kid was playing in the sandbox and got pricked, that's another story.) Kids will find needles, drugs, broken glass and even used prophylactics in parks and at school grounds, too. Sue, sue, sue. This family is going to rake in the $$$.

therealbebe Oct 24, 2018 06:57 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Did you even read the article? It's clearly stated that the family's goal is not litigation, but getting things done to improve this issue. You say your experience comes from having been four years old once? I'm so sure you had excellent powers of deduction at that age, and knew exactly what a hypodermic needle was. Ridiculous.

420722 Oct 24, 2018 04:24 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

So we’re just supposed to accept this as needle park? Um, no. Let’s change it, if this happened at Girsh or Manning or shoreline there would be a plan to solve the issue immediately. The same needs to happen here. There is also a preschool right next door.

a-1553030447 Oct 29, 2018 04:04 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

So, you too are willing to pay taxes to assist, as MtnDriver wondered at the end of his 10/24 1:37 post? I am. In part because I'm able, in other part because I support my community.

Sprigofsage Oct 24, 2018 03:36 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

I don't understand why anyone would play in this park with all of the other options in SB. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to sense it is unsavory, at best.

mtndriver Oct 24, 2018 01:37 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

I don't know how the City can prevent things like this from happening. My daughter-in-law found used hypodermic needles in their garden several times, thrown over the garden wall by users on the street--and small kids played in that garden (not in SB). They can show up anywhere an IV drug user has been. The City can't ensure there are no drug users in parks, on the street, in apartment complexes or neighborhoods. And users will dispose of their needles irresponsibly. It's awful, but it doesn't mean the City is being negligent. I wonder if the people blaming the City would vote for increased taxes to pay for more enforcement or more drug treatment centers or the infrastructure to make play areas safer for kids? All those things cost money, lots of money.

a-1553030447 Oct 25, 2018 10:21 AM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

You want to know HOW the city can prevent it? Take down all play structures and anything else that attracts children/parents to these parks. Period. It's an attractive nuisance. The City will pay for this.

Factotum Oct 24, 2018 07:18 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

Government closes down toxic waste dumps all the time. Of course the city needs to close this park as clear health and safety hazard. Yes, the few too often do spoil it for the many. Elect more council members who will take a sterner position against illegal drug use in public spaces.

a-1553030447 Oct 24, 2018 04:24 PM
Four-Year-Old Pricked by Used Needle at Local Park

I'm not 2:41, but if the city knew that users regularly throw dirty needles around the park, they should have pulled the playground. Period. That's how they could have prevented this kid from getting stuck with a dirty needle while playing. As Cappello states in his letter, the city turned a blind eye to this situation for years. The city will pay big for this.

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