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Father of toddler suffocated under beanbag at day care center demands answers

  • Facebook/Courtesy of Dan Sanchez

     (Facebook/Courtesy of Dan Sanchez)

  • Leonardo Sanchez (photo courtesy Danielle Sanchez Facebook)

     (Leonardo Sanchez (photo courtesy Danielle Sanchez Facebook))

The Utah father of the toddler who suffocated under a beanbag as a day care employee sat on it reading to the other children says he demands answers and is paying for a private investigation in order to get them.

Dan Sanchez told Fox News Latino that the police and the day care center have not offered a reasonable explanation as to why his nearly 2-year-old remained between 10 to 15 minutes under the chair without being noticed.

"Why did it take so long for them to discover my son under the chair? It doesn't make sense,” Sanchez said. “We have questions that the police and the day care center simply haven't answered."

Video footage from the day care center reportedly shows the boy, Leonardo, playing with the beanbag chair and then crawling underneath it.

The tragic incident took place on Sept. 8, around noon, in a Salt Lake City suburb.

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On Tuesday afternoon, Sgt. Joe Monson said that after reviewing the video and interviewing witnesses, investigators believe the death was accidental. However, he said the investigation is still open and criminal charges could be brought against the day care center and the employee involved in the case.

The boy’s father told Fox News Latino that despite the pain he is concerned about the employee’s mental health condition after going through such a traumatic event.

"I understand mental illness,” he told FNL, explaining that his brother committed suicide a few years ago.

“I've asked the police to check on the day care lady who did this. People don't understand this, [they wonder] why should I care about her. But I don't want any more tragedy to come out of this," he said.

Dan Sanchez said they will bury Leonardo in a plot next to his brother.

The West Jordan Child Center released a statement on Tuesday expressing the personnel’s deep regret on the tragic death. “No words adequately describe the depth of the sorrow we feel. And, of course, we do not pretend to understand how devastating this is for the family.”

Tom Hudachko, the director of communications with the Utah Department of Health, told Fox News Latino that within the last year his office has followed up on two complaints at the child care facility.

He said that during a routine inspection in April of 2015 they found a gap in a chain link fence around the property – it was wider than the legal 5 inches. And three months later, a complaint was filed alleging that the day care center didn’t provide adequate supervision of the children while on a patio.

“Those are minor technical findings. We gave the facility 30 days to submit a corrective plan of action, and that happened in both cases,” Hudachko said.

Sanchez said he wants this to be a cautionary tale to parents. "There's nothing we can do to bring him back," he said. "We need to move forward and prevent this from happening to other families."

He said he'd like to push for a new law in Utah named after his son, Leo's Law, that would keep beanbag chairs out of day care centers.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the Sanchez family. Leonardo is survived by three siblings and a heartbroken mom, Danielle.

“It just baffles me, makes me wonder, she must not have felt him, she must not have heard him,” she told Fox 13. “It’s a tragedy (…) you don’t know when the last time is you are going to hold your child.”

The family plans to hold the boy’s funeral on what would have been his second birthday, this coming Saturday. They have asked guests to bring toys that they will donate to a local children’s hospital.

Leonardo's heart has been donated to another child.

Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for FoxNews.com. She can be reached at rebekah.sager@foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager.