by: WFTV Web Staff Updated:
ORLANDO, Fla. - The driver who is accused of leaving a 3-year-old boy in a hot car for nearly 12 hours in a day care van has been arrested.
Deborah St. Charles, 51, faces charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child, Orlando police said.
St. Charles was a child care personnel/school readiness employee at Little Miracles Academy, DCF said.
Myles Hill was found dead Monday evening in a van at the Little Miracles Academy. Hill's cause of death was hyperthermia due to environmental exposure and the manner of death as accident.
A spokesperson for DCF told Channel 9's Cuthbert Langley Thursday morning that St. Charles was "not approved as a driver on the facility's roster."
Police said St. Charles got out of the van twice without checking for the toddler.
The second time she got out of the van, St. Charles answered a phone call while she was getting her belongings out of the vehicle, police said.
She did not check the interior of the van, investigators said.
Mary Voykin, who works at a different day care, said there was no reason Myles should have been left in the van.
"What was she thinking at that point? She wasn't thinking," Voykin said. "I think there's no excuse in this world for anybody to leave a child unattended in a car and for that many hours."
Police said the boy was picked up at about 7:42 a.m. Monday at another location of the day care.
The 2000 Honda Odyssey arrived at the other facility at about 9 a.m. and the worker failed to do a headcount, police said.
That allegation was what upset Voykin the most.
"We log it in and log it out," she said. "We do not let them leave without logging out. That's what you're supposed to do when you work with children."
Myles was supposed to be dropped off at the Little Miracles Academy on West Colonial Drive, but wasn't. A DCF investigation revealed Myles was marked as "present," and that he was dropped off at the day care.
Investigators said the boy's guardian called to talk about a school uniform, but no one noticed the boy wasn't home.
The guardian called the day care at about 8 p.m. and then called 911. Police found Myles' body in the van 30 minutes later.
Temperatures inside the van were as high as 144 degrees at 3 p.m., investigators said.
During a news conference Wednesday Audrey Thornton, the day care owner, told reporters that she was sorry and that the boy's death was a mistake.
"I'm so sorry. I took care of my kids. I did what I could do to provide for them and teach them every day," said Thornton.
WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said Wednesday that while it appears to be an accident, there must be accountability. Sheaffer said charges could include manslaughter or child neglect by a caregiver.
"Unless you can show there was some intentional act here, those are probably the two charges the state attorney's office would consider in this case," Sheaffer said.
Late Wednesday, the Department of Children and Families shut down both day care locations of Little Miracles Academy.
The owner of the day care told Channel 9's Cuthbert Langley that St. Charles has been fired.
"I loved Myles, and I took care of Myles since he was a baby," Thornton said.
Chiquerria Banks, Hill's aunt, sat outside the day care for hours Wednesday to not only mourn his loss, but feel what he felt to sit in the scorching heat.
"I want everybody to pay for their actions. Everybody that was here has something to do with something because you were here," Banks said. "Just imagine a 3-year-old child in a van, windows up, no water, nothing. That's suffering."
Thornton said she won't let DCF shut down her business permanently.
"Anybody who knows me knows I'm going to fight for what's mine," Thornton said. "I'm not going to give it up like that."
Records show the day care violated checks in place to possible prevent the tragedy from happening.
Vehicle logs for the day care van were recovered and showed a pick up time and signature of Myles' grandmother, but did not include the driver or second employee signature verifying they conducted the vehicle sweep.
OPD report calls the actions of St. Charles as showing "an utter disregard for the safety of the children she is responsible for" @WFTV— Samantha Manning (@SamanthaWFTV) August 10, 2017
© 2017 Cox Media Group.