A Florida toddler was discovered dead late Monday in a hot day-care van after authorities said the driver failed to conduct a head count and notice that the boy had been forgotten.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said during a news conference Tuesday that Myles K. Hill, who would have turned 4 later this month, died after he was apparently left all day in a hot vehicle parked outside Little Miracles Academy on Plymouth Avenue in Orlando.
“This is an absolute tragedy, which could have been prevented,” Mina said, urging caregivers to always check their vehicles for children, according to CBS affiliate WKMG.
Mina said criminal charges are pending against the day-care worker, who he noted was “extremely distraught,” although authorities are still awaiting the autopsy results.
The police chief said when Myles did not return home Monday evening, his grandmother called Little Miracles Academy and police to report he was missing. A day-care worker checked the van, Mina said, and police received a call from the day care about an unresponsive child in a vehicle.
When officers arrived about 8:30 p.m., they found the 3-year-old on the floor in the back seat of the vehicle, Mina said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.
— Karla Ray (@KRayWFTV) August 8, 2017
An initial investigation revealed that the day-care worker, who has not been identified by police, picked up Myles and other children Monday morning and drove them to another Little Miracles Academy, police said.
The worker returned to the location on Plymouth Avenue about 9 a.m., police said, and did not realize that Myles was still in the van. He was found more than 11 hours later.
Barbara Livingston, Myles’s aunt, told WKMG that she asked a day-care worker where the toddler was and she was told that he was “gone.”
When Livingston asked, “Gone where?” she said the employee pointed to the van. “I’m numb. I don’t know how to feel,” she told WKMG.
So far in 2017, 32 children have died from heatstroke after being left in hot cars, according to a national database. Data shows since 1998, 732 children have died that way.
Authorities said the Florida Department of Children and Families will conduct an institutional investigation. WKMG reported that after an inspection into Little Miracles Academy last month, the state cited the day-care center for logging practices during transportation.
The report noted: “The facility’s log for children transported did not include the following required elements: [destination time, arrival time, destination location and departure location.]”
A Facebook page for Little Miracles Academy appeared to be deactivated Tuesday afternoon and WKMG reported that a sign on the building’s door said that it was closed.
The day-care facility did not immediately respond to a request for comment.