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Owners of Day Care Are Charged in Girl's Death

May 18, 2004|From a Times Staff Writer

The owners of a licensed child-care facility where a toddler drowned in a partially covered hot tub have been charged with four counts of child endangerment, officials said Monday.

Debra and Fernando Gonzalez, a Riverside couple who operated the facility in Riverside from 1998 until it closed about six weeks ago, had not been arrested as of late Monday.

Fernando Gonzalez's lawyer, Warren Small, said the couple planned to surrender to authorities sometime today. Small said they were not flight risks.

Twenty-month-old Aryanna Sanchez drowned in a partially covered hot tub on March 29. The Gonzalezes told police they had momentarily lost sight of the girl. There were three other children in the home when the drowning occurred, according to police.

The couple face three child-endangerment charges and one charge of child endangerment causing death, according to a spokeswoman at the Riverside County district attorney's office. Debra Gonzalez also is charged with two counts of being under the influence of a controlled substance. The district attorney's office declined comment.

The day-care facility has been closed since March 30, when state officials suspended the Gonzalezes' license.

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