Florida orders Orlando daycare centers shut after boy dies in van



(Reuters) – A Florida state regulator on Wednesday ordered the closure of two Orlando daycare centers two days after the death of a three-year-old boy who was left for hours by an employee in a van on a hot day.

If an autopsy confirms that Myles Hill perished from being left in the vehicle, his will be the 32nd such death for U.S. children in 2017 and the fifth in Florida, Orlando police have said. On Monday, Orlando temperatures hit 93 Fahrenheit (34 Celsius).

No charges have been filed against the unidentified female driver of the van, which is owned by the daycare provider Little Miracles Academy, Orlando police said on Wednesday. Police said the investigation was ongoing.

“This facility was previously cited for not keeping proper paperwork, (and) based on the tragic circumstances of this case, both facilities have now been shut down,” Mike Carroll, head of the Florida Department of Children and Families, said in a statement.

No child will be cared for at either center until the state determines they are safe, Carroll said.

The van driver has been fired, Little Miracles owner Audrey Thornton said at a press conference earlier on Wednesday. She declined to identify the woman, as have the police.

Thornton, who vowed she would fight to keep her daycare company open, said she had been friends for years with the family of the child who died.

“I’m just devastated,” said Thornton, who wore dark sunglasses and cried as she spoke with reporters at the office of her attorney, Robert Nesmith.

“I loved Myles and I took care of Myles since he was a baby. And if y’all can forgive me,” Thornton said. “I’m so sorry.”

Nesmith did not immediately return a phone call after the state order came on Wednesday evening.

Police have said they believed Hill was left in the van for most of the daylight hours on Monday.

On Tuesday, Carroll said one of the two Little Miracles Academy centers had been issued five licensing violations in the past two years, according to the department.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Richard Chang


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