Four workers at an Arkansas daycare have been fired from their jobs and charged with manslaughter after a five-year-old boy was left in a hot van all day, resulting in his death.
According to CNN, a daycare van, driven by 42-year-old Felicia Ann Phillips, picked up five-year-old Christopher Gardner, Jr. at his home on Monday, June 12 at approximately 6:30 am. The van was said to have arrived back at the daycare at approximately 7:15 am, and it was believed all of the kids had exited the vehicle. However, somehow, Christopher was left behind in the hot car alone. His body wasn’t discovered until 3:00 pm when the employees were loading the children up to take them home. It was reported that Christopher was found still sitting in his booster seat, and at some point during the day, as the temperatures rose, he had removed his socks, shoes, and shirt.
West Memphis Police Captain Joe Baker said the van doors were exceptionally heavy, especially for a young child, and the sliding van door had the child lock function engaged, making it nearly impossible for Christopher to get out of the vehicle without any assistance from an adult. When the police arrived at the daycare later that afternoon, temperatures outside had reached a high of 91 degrees, meaning the temperature in the van had soared to unthinkable temperatures.
On Wednesday, June 14, Phillips, and three other daycare employees, Pamela Lavette Robinson, 43, Kendra Washington, 40, and Wanda Taylor, 43, were fired from their positions and were taken into custody and charged with manslaughter. Crittenden County Jail records revealed the women were in custody on Friday but were later released. Baker acknowledged that there were many protocols the women could have taken to prevent the hot car death of little Christopher.
“The things they did to bypass protocol were negligent, reckless and against protocol,” he said.
— ABC 7 News – WJLA (@ABC7News) June 17, 2017
Ascent Children’s Health Services CEO Dan Sullivan echoed Baker’s statements, saying the employees did not follow the practices they have set in place that could have prevented this horrible tragedy. Wanda Taylor was reportedly responsible for checking off each child’s name off of a sheet when they got on and off of the van. On this particular day, she checked off Christopher’s name without even seeing if he was in the van or not. Phillips and Robinson were responsible for physically getting every child out of the van. Because each woman failed to do their job properly, a five-year-old boy suffered a miserable death.
“You can see that my great grandbaby suffered in that van,” Christopher’s great grandmother Carrie Smith told WMC. “That wasn’t right.”
Do you think the women should be charged in Christopher’s death? Leave your comments below.
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