ORLANDO, Fla. – A Florida day care van driver will face criminal charges after a child was found dead inside the vehicle at the end of a sweltering summer day, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said 3-year-old Myles Hill spent all day in the van outside the Little Miracles Academy before he was discovered Monday night. Mina wouldn't say what charges the day care worker could face but says the worker has been cooperative.
Detectives were awaiting autopsy results, but believe they will show the death was caused by the heat. Temperatures reached a high of 94-degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 Celsius) 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.
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.
"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.
No one answered the phone at the day care Tuesday afternoon. Another number for the day care's president found in state Division of Corporation records was disconnected.
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.