A Florida daycare driver has been charged in the death of a little boy who was left locked in a hot van for 11 hours in blistering heat.
Deborah St. Charles, 51, was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, Orlando police announced through social media on Thursday.
Myles Hill, three, was found dead in the van outside of Little Miracles Academy daycare center after spending all day trapped in the summer heat on Monday night.
Now St. Charles, who was not listed as an approved driver at the center, will face a judge for the first time on Friday.
Police claim St. Charles picked up Myles at his home on Monday morning and placed him on the driver’s side rear bench before proceeding to pick up two more children.
She drove to Little Miracles Academy and parked, unloading what she presumed were all the children and brought them into the center.
The woman did not perform a headcount, the police report stated.
Myles was marked present Monday when he wasn’t actually in class.
Then St. Charles used the van to drive to another Little Miracles location and left it there, locking the car with Myles inside before she entered the daycare center, reported Click Orlando.
Police were alerted to the situation when Myles’ great grandmother called the daycare to report the child had not been returned home. He was found dead by another worker around 8.30pm.
The boy’s aunt, Barbara Livingston, said that when she asked daycare workers where her nephew was, they said he was ‘gone’.
‘(We) said, “Gone where?” And she pointed at the van,’ Livingston told News 6. ‘I’m numb. I don’t know how to feel.’
A medical examiner has called the death an accident, listing its cause as hypothermia as a result of ‘unbearable environment’ exposure.
Police claim that by 3pm, Monday’s temperatures would have been up to 144 degrees Fahrenheit inside the van.
Det. Shane Overfield said in the arrest report about St. Charles: ‘This negligent act was committed with an utter disregard for the safety of the children she is responsible for transporting during the normal course of duties as a daycare service provider and driver of the childcare transport vehicle.’
The report continues to claim that too many children were riding in the van, and an 11-year-old was sitting in the front passenger seat, a violation of Florida rules.
St. Charles is being held on $30,000 bail. Jail records didn’t list an attorney.
In the wake of Myles’ tragic death, daycare owner Audrey Thornton begged for forgiveness from the boy’s family on Wednesday at an emotional press conference.
Thornton said she had just arrived home from work when she received the call that Myles was missing.
‘I just started screaming and hollering, and crying and crying and crying,’ she said.
She begged Myles’ family for a chance to explain what happened.
‘I’m sorry for your loss and I don’t want you all to be upset with me and I loved Myles and I took care of Myles since he was a baby and if you all could forgive me,’ a tearful Thornton said.
‘I’m so sorry just give me a chance to talk to you and explain.’
‘Anyone who knows me… they know I took care of my kids, I love my kids. I give back to the community and I just want them to trust me and trust in me and that if I ever open back up this will never happen again.’
The Florida Department of Children and Families has since revoked the daycare center’s operating license and fined it $2,750.
A Florida Department of Children and Families inspection report from last month showed that the academy had been cited for not keeping track of children being transported.
‘The facility’s log for children transported did not include the following required elements: [destination time, arrival time, destination location and departure location.]. (Section 6.2, number 3) [SR],’ the DCF report said.
The rule requires day care centers to maintain logs of the time children arrive, where they were supposed to be transported and what time they departed.