Baby dies after being left in Fla. daycare van for 5 hours; co-owner arrested

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WJXT/CNN) - The co-owner of a Florida daycare faces child neglect charges after police say he failed to properly supervise a 4-month-old baby, who died after she was left in the daycare’s van.

Darryl Ewing, 56, was booked into the Duval County Jail on a charge of child neglect Wednesday night, according to jail records. He is the co-owner of Ewing’s Love and Hope Preschool and Academy in Jacksonville, Fla.

Authorities say a 4-month-old baby girl was found unconscious Wednesday afternoon in a child safety seat inside a van at the daycare. Firefighters tried to revive the baby and took her to the children’s hospital, but she could not be saved.

"Tragically, today a family has just been notified of the gut-wrenching loss of their precious baby girl," said Division of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell. "DCF immediately opened a joint child death and child care licensing investigation in coordination with law enforcement. We will continue to support this family as they mourn the loss of their baby girl."

Darryl Ewing, 56, was booked into the Duval County Jail on a charge of child neglect. He is the co-owner of Ewing’s Love and Hope Preschool and Academy in Jacksonville, Fla.
Darryl Ewing, 56, was booked into the Duval County Jail on a charge of child neglect. He is the co-owner of Ewing’s Love and Hope Preschool and Academy in Jacksonville, Fla. (Source: WJXT/Duval County Jail/CNN)

Investigators say they learned Ewing was the driver of the daycare van that picked up the infant and other children Wednesday morning. No other employees were on the van.

According to detectives, the van arrived at the daycare about 8:25 a.m., and children were offloaded and taken into the center. Ewing then parked the van in front of the daycare and left the vehicle unattended.

Nearly five hours later, the infant’s mother called to make after-school arrangements for all of her children, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. It was discovered at that time the baby had never been checked into the daycare.

Employees went to the van and discovered the infant unresponsive, still strapped in her child seat, and called emergency services.

Meteorologists estimate the temperature inside an enclosed vehicle parked in the sun at noon Wednesday could have reached 123 degrees.

Further investigation by the sheriff’s office revealed Ewing was responsible for maintaining a driver’s log, documenting all children placed onto the van. Detectives say Ewing had logged two of the infant’s siblings but not the victim.

Interviews of other daycare employees indicated it is the van driver’s responsibility to check and make sure children are offloaded from the vehicle.

DEATH INVESTIGATION – Infant left in hot van died Arrest Made On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, police were dispatched to...

Posted by Jacksonville Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"It was determined the suspect’s actions [and lack thereof] failed to provide the victim with the necessary supervision and provide services to protect the victim’s physical health, all which was essential to the victim’s well-being and contributed to the death of the victim," said the sheriff’s office in a statement.

Although the daycare center was properly licensed at the time of the incident and had no violations in its last three inspections, the state will be immediately suspending the license because it wasn’t aware children were being transported by the daycare.

Authorities say the daycare cares for about 14 children. The baby was the only one who was injured.

The investigation into the infant’s death is ongoing.

Copyright 2019 WJXT, Duval County Jail via CNN. All rights reserved.