This is a developing story.
The city has closed off the two large slides located at the playground at Twin Lakes Park after at least two children suffered injuries after going down the slides believed to be vandalized and covered in bear spray.
According to Michele Elfers, deputy director of the City and Borough of Juneau Parks and Recreation Department, the two slides will remain closed at least through the weekend and into the next week after multiple rounds of cleaning failed to remove the spray’s residue.
“We’re going to let it sit for a few days and see if it is able to be cleaned,” she said. “We’ll do our best and reassess in the coming days what we need to do to make them safe or if we have to replace them.”
Elfers said following an initial report of injury around noon Wednesday, park maintenance staff did some investigating and found an empty can of bear spray in a trash can near the park, which is believed to be the source of the injuries.
According to Juneau Police Department Lt. Krag Campbell, police received a report via its online reporting system from the Parks and Recreation Department stating its staff had received a call about a child that was sent to the ER after having a severe reaction going down the slide.
As of Friday afternoon, Campbell said police are “playing catch-up” and are in the early stages of investigation. He said it is too early to say if the incident was intentional, but noted, “it is a very unusual place to use bear spray.”
He said there are no suspects at this time. Both Elfers and Campbell said neither of them could recall a similar incident.
In a public Facebook post, a woman said her granddaughter ended up in the emergency room after going down one of the slides Thursday evening.
“She played on a few other things, then went back to the slide. She immediately started screaming because her eyes and skin was burning,” the post stated. “Someone is intentionally being malicious and trying to hurt kids.”
According to the post, a CBJ employee told the woman a similar incident had occurred days prior and the equipment was power washed.
Elfer said the park does not have cameras, and the rest of the park is open for public use.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651) 528-1807.