Woman arrested in daycare van death of child

The van's driver is charged with aggravated manslaughter.

ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orlando day care employee was arrested Thursday afternoon, several days after a 3-year-old boy was found dead after being left in a van for up to 11 hours.

Orlando police said Deborah St. Charles, 51, the driver of the Little Miracles day care van where Myles Hill was found, is charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Earlier Thursday, officials with the Department of Children and Families confirmed to News 6 that St. Charles was not approved as a driver on the facility's roster.

Little Miracles Academy owner Audrey Thornton said Wednesday that St. Charles has been fired.

The arrest affidavit for St. Charles also provided new details to what led up to the toddler's death and the temperatures his little body would have been exposed to during the more than 11 hours he was trapped inside the van.

St. Charles picked Myles up from his great grandmother's home at 7:42 a.m. Monday, placing him on the driver's side rear bench on the van. After picking up two more children, St. Charles drove to Little Miracles Academy 2 on West Colonial Drive and parked.

She walked around the van to grab cleaning supplies out of the back of the van and the children got out of the van and walked into the day care with her, according to the report. She assumed all of the children had gone into Little Miracles and did not perform a headcount, St. Charles told police.

St. Charles returned to the van and drove it to Little Miracles Academy I on Plymouth Avenue. When St. Charles parked the van she received a phone call, and was on the phone when she grabbed her personal belongings and locked the van without looking around, the report shows.

St. Charles then went into the Plymouth Avenue day care to her classroom, worked her shift and went home around 6 p.m., she told police.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the boy was likely in the van since 9 a.m. after St. Charles locked up the vehicle. Temperatures hit 93 degrees on Monday. Orlando police crime scene investigators said the van, at noon, would have reached between 115 and 144 degrees.

The "unbearable environment" caused Myles' death, according to the medical examiner.

Myles was found by another day care employee in the van outside Little Miracles Academy around 8 p.m., after the boy's great grandmother called the day care to report that he hadn't been dropped off at home. DCF issued an emergency suspension order Wednesday to close the Little Miracles Academy on Plymouth Avenue where Myles died, as well as the facility's second Orlando location.

No child can be present at either location until the agency says otherwise. READ: Orlando day care cited by DCF prior to child's death, records show "Our hearts are broken about the senseless loss of Myles and we will continue to support his family. We are conducting a thorough investigation and are assisting law enforcement with their criminal investigation.

This facility was previously cited for not keeping proper paperwork. Based on the tragic circumstances of this case, both facilities have now been shut down. We will continue to aggressively act to keep kids safe and will hold anyone accountable who doesn’t follow the law," a DCF spokesman said.

DCF officials said anyone who drives a vehicle for a day care facility must meet certain requirements. "When any vehicle is regularly used by a child care facility to provide transportation, the driver must have a valid Florida driver’s license; an annual physical examination, which grants medical approval to drive; and valid certificate(s) of course completion for first aid training and infant and child CPR procedures; and documentation must be maintained in the driver’s personnel file," a DCF spokesman said in a statement.

WKMG


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