WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WATN) – Investigations are underway after a 5-year-old died in a hot day care van in Arkansas.
Ascent Child Care Center staff never checked in Christopher Gardner Monday morning at the West Memphis daycare. The facility cares for children with special needs.
The Arkansas Department of Health Services says they intend to get to the bottom of what happened. The van driver and attendant have been suspended.
However, Gardner’s family wants to know how school staff did not realize the child was not in class.
“I just need some answers,” Ashley Smith, Gardner’s mother. I’ve never been through this in my life. I wouldn’t put nobody through this.”
Smith spoke through her grief one day after police met her at the day care to tell her that her child was found dead.
“You did what you were supposed to do,” Gardner’s grandmother, Carrie Smith, told Ashley as she cried. “It was them; they didn’t do what they were supposed to do.”
Investigators with the DHS are looking into the facility’s licensing and will begin a separate investigation into Southeast Trans, owners of the van Gardner died on.
According to DHS, there are procedures all Arkansas child care centers must follow.
Childcare centers must use a roster to check all children on and off vehicles during pickup and drop off times.
The driver and staff member must check each seat of the vehicle. Also, the center director must compare vehicle rosters with class attendance. Alarms are placed on vehilces, requiring drivers to go back to deactivate.
West Memphis Police say the sad outcome of yesterday’s event was simply the result of somebody not doing their job.
“Get off their lazy a** and go see where the kids at,” said Carrie Smith. “They did not check for my grandbaby. They did not check. If they did, they would have seen him.”
Ascent released a statement expressing how heartbroken they are and that their prayers are with Gardener’s family.
More charges are pending the outcome of these investigations.
Funeral services have not been announced for Gardner, yet.