2-year-old boy dies after being left inside hot van for more than 5 hours as daycare driver turns off safety alarm
OAKLAND PARK, FLORIDA: A 2-year-old boy, who died inside a daycare center's hot van on Monday, July 29, was left alone after the driver reportedly did not follow the protocol and turned off a safety alarm.
The alarm is not supposed to be switched off before unloading as its purpose is to sound off if any passengers are left inside.
Now, both the daycare center and the driver are being investigated for the death of Noah Sneed who was trapped inside the vehicle for more than five hours in the sweltering heat.
According to the report compiled by Broward’s Child Care Licensing and Enforcement, which was obtained by Miami Herald a week after the incident, Noah was picked up at 9:30 a.m. by a Ford E-350 Super Duty Van and put in a seat secured with a seat belt.
“During the course of a complaint investigation related to the death of a child at this facility it was determined that the child was not being transported in a federally approved child safety seat as required for children 1 through 3 years of age,” the investigator wrote in the report. “The child was placed in the seat and was secured by a seat belt."
When Noah's mother, Chanese Sneed, was later questioned she said she did strap Noah into a child car seat when she saw her son off and she had no idea how Noah ended up not in the child’s seat, but in a regular seat.
The violations did not end there. Investigators were uncertain about the exact number of children who were picked up by the accused driver and brought to the center as "the transportation log was not completed." After arriving at the center, the unnamed driver walked to the back of the van and turned off the safety alarm before letting the children out.
“The driver then walked to the passenger side of the vehicle and allowed the children to exit the vehicle,” the investigator wrote.
“The driver did not follow the correct procedures for operating the alarm on the vehicle as it states that driver or a staff member must physically inspect each seat before turning off the alarm.”
Also in direct breach of strict protocol, no attendance was taken when the children arrived at the Ceressa’s Day Care & Preschool because the person who was responsible for maintaining the record was not there when the van arrived with the children at the center.
The police are treating the investigation as manslaughter. Although no staff members have been charged, the center was slapped with five Class 1 violations, which was the highest level.
Broward Sheriff’s Office coordinator, Tracy Graham, said that the daycare owner Lakeila Harris voluntarily surrendered the center's license on Monday and that it had been closed since Noah was found dead.
Teresa Brown, Noah’s great aunt, on the other hand, wanted the investigators to look into questions like, "Was the alarm ever on? Was it ever used?"
She added: “They need to pay for what was done. They need to pay for this negligence.”