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