STILLWATER, Minn. (WCCO) – The future of Lily Lake is up in the air after a young boy died from a parasitic amoeba.
Nine-year-old Jack Ariola Erenberg died earlier this month. His death came two years after Stillwater child, Anne Bahneman, died from contracting a similar amoeba in Lily Lake.
Things got heated at a community meeting Monday as Jack’s family demanded accountability from city officials.
Community members are now questioning why more wasn’t done to protect the public.
“We are all here to raise awareness for families who have no idea what this is. We had never heard of it before our daughter died,” Chad LaMeyer said.
The father of a child who died from a similar parasite told city officials he believes deaths, like his daughters, can be prevented.
His daughter, Hailee Marie LaMeyer, died in 2008 after swimming in a small lake in Forest Lake.
“Because of the fact that the state health officials say that this is rare…and we are so sick and tired of hearing that. You got to find a way to get the knowledge to the parents,” LaMeyer said.
Chad says it’s their quest to make other families aware. Joining his quest, and also in attendance Monday, were Jack Ariola Erenberg’s dad and Annie Bahneman’s mother. They are among more than 30 similar cases in the US.
Health officials shared some new information about the amoeba. They say the parasite sits in the sediment of the lake. When it gets stirred up, that’s when it’s problematic.
Several of the concerned community members tonight demanded the city do more to educate the public. One of them was Lisa Nelson.
“When are you that have the powers that be…when are you going to start putting our children’s lives first?” Nelson said.
Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki attempted to calm the angered citizens.
“We are trying to work in a respectful manner, trying to get answers…We are going to sit down and we are going to have some more conversations in the future and have more answers,” Harycki said.
Lily Lake has been closed to swimmers, but is open to boaters and fishermen.
City officials say the lake will stay closed to swimming the rest of the summer.