A 3-month-old baby, Karl Towndrow, was dropped off for his first day at a daycare facility in the trendy SoHo district of New York City after his mother received recommendations from people she knew in the community. However, that would be the last time the infant’s mother, who worked right around the corner, would see him alive. The infant would die after being laid down for a midday nap while under the daycare facility’s care. Police say that workers at the daycare were not properly trained in infant CPR and that the facility had been operating without a license for the past 14 years.
ABC 7 reports that a police and child services investigation has been open following the death of 4-month-old Karl Towndrow. Police reports indicate that the infant was fed by the daycare owner, Maryellen Strautmanis, at approximately 10:30 a.m. with breast milk provided by the mother. The child was then put down for a midday nap. However, Strautmanis says she returned to find the infant with blue lips and called 911 while attempting to perform CPR. However, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce says that it appeared Strautmanis and other employees at the daycare were not properly trained in CPR techniques, as she needed coaching from the dispatcher.
Boyce says that the daycare facility was not licensed despite having been in operation for 14 years, with 15 children under the care of the owner, and four employees.
“It’s a little bit strange that they have been operating for some time. There were about 15 children there, anywhere from 3 years to 3 months. There were four employees, including the owner, who were tending for these children.”
The New York Daily News notes that Karl’s mother, 41-year-old Amber Towndrow, had planned to come back to the daycare to feed her son on her lunch break but provided the bottle in case Karl got hungry before she returned. She reportedly also told daycare workers that Karl didn’t sleep well before leaving for her first day back on the job after maternity leave.
Witnesses say the distraught and hysterical mother returned to the daycare in time to jump on the ambulance with her dying son. Doctors say there were no signs of an obstructed airway or bruising on the child, so a cause of death is not clear at this time. Police say an autopsy will be performed for an official cause of death.
Meanwhile, a cease-and-desist order has been placed on the SoHo daycare facility that comes with a $500 fine per day if violated. Child services and the police department are investigating the death, noting that the business has been in operation for 14 years without a license, but also noted that in that time no complaints have been filed.
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