OAKLAND PARK, FLA. (WSVN) - The Broward Sheriff’s Office has arrested the driver of a day care van where a 2-year-old boy died in July.
Forty-six-year-old Engrid Thurston was arrested on a warrant at her home in Lauderhill, Friday morning.
The family of the victim, 2-year-old Noah Sneed, reacted to Thurston’s arrest, Friday night. They said they’re one step closer to justice.
“A sigh of relief, a feeling of relief,” said Shatavia Symonette, the boy’s aunt. “Words just — it’s crazy.”
Thurston faces one count of aggravated manslaughter.
“We wanted justice, we needed justice,” said Symonette.
According to detectives, Thurston picked up Noah and took him and other children to Ceressa’s Enrichment and Empowerment Academy in Oakland Park, July 29.
Investigators said the suspect parked the van outside the facility, located along the 3100 block of Northwest 21st Avenue, at around 9:30 a.m.
They said Thurston disengaged the van’s safety alarm before removing the children from the vehicle.
Authorities said Noah, who was picked up at his home at around 9 a.m. that morning, was asleep in the back of the van, not in a car seat but with a seat belt on.
Detectives said the toddler was found unresponsive five hours later and pronounced dead.
“Everybody got off the bus, and then they said, somebody was leaving the facility around 3-something to go to lunch and spotted the baby in the car,” said Charlene Brooks, the boy’s grandmother, as she broke down in tears. “How did this lady come out and spot him in the car and nobody else spotted him? I don’t understand.”
Minutes before Noah boarded the van, his mother, Chanese Sneed, recorded cellphone video of herself dancing with the boy.
“He was my baby. He was the happiest thing ever, and I just want justice for my baby,” she said during a memorial held for the child.
“He was a good brother. He never did anything bad,” said Xavier Daley, Noah’s brother. “He was more than a brother. He was like a friend.”
Since Noah’s death, his loved ones haven’t let up in their quest for justice. They hit the streets holding signs and demanding answers about the investigation.
“We’re marching for Noah Sneed,” demonstrators chanted during one of these protests.
The medical examiner ruled Sneed died from hyperthermia as a result of being left inside the sweltering van unsupervised for an extended period of time.
“Imagine a child sitting in a van for that long with the seat belt on, and no one knows that he’s missing,” said Teresa Brown, Noah’s great aunt, as she held up a photo of the victim. “No one took roll, to count, to make sure that the children are inside.”
One week after that tragic day, the driver of that transport van was taken to Broward County Jail.
“It gives me chills now to even be finally able to say that we’re actually getting answers,” said Symonette.
Thurston’s family declined to comment on her arrest or her charges.
She is being held on $25,000 bond and is expected to appear in court on Saturday.
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