Child Found Dead in Day Care Van

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Dallas Police Department is investigating the death of a 2-year-old boy who was left inside a day care van Thursday.

    A 3-year-old girl who knew 2-year-old Sir Anthony Smith found him inside the vehicle when she boarded the van in the parking lot of the Paul Dunbar Elementary School, a head start and elementary school.

    Police Investigate Toddler's Death in Day Care Vehicle

    [DFW] Police Investigate Toddler's Death in Day Care Vehicle
    Dallas police are investigating the death of a 2-year-old who was left in a van for several hours. (Published Thursday, Sep 16, 2010)

    The van was at the school to pick up children enrolled at the H.H. Banks Learning Center at New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church. The vehicle is used to transport children to and from schools and the day care in the mornings and afternoons.

    Police estimate that the child was in the van for six hours.

    "They made it back to the day care center at 9 o'clock this morning, and it was not until around 3 p.m. this afternoon when the child was discovered," Sgt. Warren Mitchell said.

    Police said witnesses removed the boy from the vehicle and called paramedics after the 3-year-old saw Smith in the van and alerted adults. Smith was taken to Children's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

    The high temperature Thursday was 94 degrees, but vehicles can be 30 to 40 degrees hotter on the inside.

    Smith was not enrolled in any Dallas Independent School District programs. Police said he was one of approximately 14 children who were picked up from various addresses this morning by two Banks Learning Center employees. The children were dropped off at Dunbar and other locations. Smith was supposed to be dropped off at the Banks Learning Center, police said.

    Police said they have not yet determined if any arrests will be made in the case.

    But Kim Brewster and Cecilia Figures, who have children at the day care, said they are pulling their children out of the Banks Learning Center.

    "It doesn't make sense," Brewster said. "How come you (are) not doing attendance for these kids? You don't know what kids are in your building? You should have known that little boy wasn't there. So I don't know how they didn't know he wasn't there in the first place."

    Figures said it was shocking that a 3-year-old discovered the toddler's body. Both mothers offered condolences to the boy's family and prayers for the girl who found him.

    "It's another child that's finding another baby that's dead? How do you explain that to them?" Brewster said.

    Jacob's Law, which into effect in Texas last year, mandates training for day care drivers. The law is named for 4-year-old Jacob Fox, who died in July 2006 after he was left in day care van.

    "I'm deeply saddened by the life that was lost," said Avonda Fox, who lobbied for the law and started a foundation in her son's memory.

    According to state records, the Banks Learning Center has been cited seven times in the past 18 months. Four of the violations were considered high-risk, involving issues such as staff training and background checks.

    Dunbar Elementary, located at 4200 Metropolitan Avenue, educates grades K-5. It has an enrollment of fewer than 500 students and 39 teachers.

    NBCDFW's Randy McIlwain and Omar Villafranca contributed to this report.