A Houston toddler died after daycare workers reportedly forgot him inside a van after a field trip for several hours, with temperatures in the area nearing 100 degrees.
The 3-year-old was found dead on Thursday evening after his father went to the Discovering Me Academy to pick up the boy, ABC 13 reported. It was then that employees searched for the boy around the daycare center before realizing that he had been left in the van for more than three hours. He was found inside the van unresponsive. Paramedics tried to revive the boy, who was taken to a nearby hospital before being pronounced dead.
As the Houston Chronicle reported, police believe that the toddler fell asleep during the 12-minute ride from a nearby park back to the daycare center, and that two other employees failed to notice him as they unloaded the other 28 children off the bus. Police do not know if the boy tried to leave the bus before passing out, the report noted.
Police measured the inside of the van at 113 degrees, but the Houston Chronicle noted that the reading was taken after a door had been opened as rescuers tried to save the boy, meaning it was likely even hotter inside while he was trapped. As NBC News noted, it takes less than an hour for the inside of a vehicle to reach fatal temperatures, especially when it is a child trapped inside.
The boy’s death left police angry at the failure of the daycare employees to properly watch after the children.
“It seems to me this was just gross negligence,” said Constable Alan Rosen. “It’s just tragic.”
This is not the first time that the center in question has faced scrutiny for its watch over children. ABC 13 found that the Discovering Me Academy daycare center had a number of violations for the van in 2015, including not having an electronic child safety alarm, which can alert the driver and staff if a child is left in the vehicle. Another citation noted a driver who did not know the number of children in her group. It was not clear whether the center employed the same driver in the trip before Thursday’s tragic death.
Houston police have not yet named the 3-year-old boy who died after being left inside the hot van. They have questioned a chaperone and a daycare employee, but have not announced if anyone will face charges for the boy’s death.