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Girl, 2, Dies After Being Left in a Day-Care Van

June 10, 2005|From Associated Press

WEST ALLIS, Wis. — A toddler was found dead Thursday in a day-care center van after apparently being left there in muggy weather for most of the day, authorities said.

Police said the girl was about 2 years old and may have been in the van outside the Come and Grow with Me Learning and Arts Center in suburban Milwaukee for as long as eight hours. Temperatures reached the lower 80s during the day.

Investigators were interviewing the driver but no charges had been filed by late Thursday against him or the center's operators.

The driver "came here voluntarily and he's cooperating with us," said police Det. Chuck Padgett.

West Allis resident Karen Smith told reporters that she witnessed the scene when the mother came looking for the child midafternoon.

"This lady was screaming, 'Where's my kid? Where's my kid?' " Smith told WTMJ-TV. 'You guys had my kid, picked up my kid at seven o'clock this morning and you're trying to tell me you haven't seen my kid all day?' ... They looked in the van, and her kid was just laying there."

Smith said center staffers tried to resuscitate the child but got no response.

The girl's name was not immediately released.

A woman who answered the door at Come and Grow with Me on Thursday afternoon said she could not comment.

Christina Clark, 23, who lives above the day-care center, said she saw the toddler's mother carry her child from the center van to an ambulance, then became distraught when other parents started arriving.

"The mother yelled to another parent that her daughter was dead," Clark said.

Word of the death had reached many parents who looked harried as they picked up their youngsters.

Jose Reynolds, 25, who gathered up his two children, ages 2 and 9, at the center, said the facility's operators "looked terrible. They looked physically shaken."

People have left flowers, stuffed animals and other items in a memorial to the toddler outside the day-care center.

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