Four People Charged After Toddler Dies in Daycare Van

Four people in West Memphis, Arkansas, have been charged in connection to the death of a 5-year-old who died after being left in a daycare van.

Authorities said Christopher Gardner Jr. died Monday after the driver of the bus, an adult rider, and another day care employee failed to check the bus to make sure no children were left behind.

Little Christopher reportedly got on the bus headed to Ascent Children’s Health Services around 6:40 a.m. but was found unconscious eight hours later.

Authorities said someone signed Christopher in as if was present and inside the daycare.

Police pointed to spending a long time in the heat as the cause of death. The temperature outside was 91 degrees, and police said the inside of the van could have gotten up to 130 degrees, WREG reports.

Ascent issued the following statement:

There are simply no words to express the overwhelming sadness we feel at the death of this child. We are heartbroken and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Ascent will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities and state agencies as they investigate this tragic incident. Our West Memphis clinic will remain closed for the rest of the week.

Police said they haven’t had issues with Ascent in the past.

However, WREG uncovered Ascent was cited for the following violations:

  1. Aug. 25, 2016, visit: Medicine shall be kept out of the reach of the children when dispensing and shall be stored in a locked area at all other times.
  2. March 20, 2017, visit: Trampolines shall not be used. (Therapeutic use of trampolines is acceptable if supervised by the therapist on a one-on-one basis.)
  3. March 20, 2017, visit: Slides shall have a transition platform of at least 14 inches deep for preschool and school age children, and 19 inches deep for toddler.