ORLANDO, Fla. – A Florida day care van driver has been arrested just days after a child was found dead inside the vehicle at the end of a sweltering summer day, law enforcement officials.
Deborah Denise St. Charles, 51, of Orlando, has been charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of 3-year-old Myles Hill.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said Hill spent all day in the van outside the Little Miracles Academy before he was discovered Monday night. Mina has said that St. Charles has been cooperative.
Detectives say the death was caused by the heat. Temperatures reached a high of 94-degrees Fahrenheit in Orlando on Monday. Temperatures inside a vehicle under the summer sun can rise much higher.
"This is an absolute tragedy that could have been prevented," Mina said at a news conference earlier in the week.
Myles was supposed to have been dropped off in the morning at another Little Miracles Academy day care center but instead the boy was taken to the location where he was found on the floor of the vehicle more than 11 hours later. It was too early to say why Myles was taken to the wrong location, but the driver "did admit to not doing a head count," Mina said.
Florida Department of Children and Families records show the Little Miracles Academy was found not in compliance last month with a rule requiring day care centers to maintain logs of the time children arrive, where they were supposed to be transported and what time they departed.
Officials with the state agency said Tuesday that the department had opened its own investigation into the death and two locations of the Little Miracles Academy are now closed.
"DCF is pursuing every legal option available to cease operations by tomorrow at both of these facilities," Mike Carroll, the agency's secretary, said in a statement.
Mina said Myles' death was the fifth fatality in Florida this year involving a child left in a hot vehicle. He pleaded with parents and caregivers to put their cellphones, wallets or purses in the back seat with their children so they are reminded to look back there when they leave their vehicles.
"Every time we hear about this ... it hurts us all," Mina said.