OAKLAND PARK, FLA. (WSVN) - Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies are investigating after a toddler was found dead inside a van parked outside of an Oakland Park day care center.
BSO deputies and Oakland Park Fire Rescue crews responded to the scene at Ceressa’s Enrichment and Empowerment Academy, along the 3100 block of Northwest 21st Avenue, at around 3:20 p.m., Monday.
According to fire officials, a 2-year-old boy, later identified as Noah Sneed, was found dead inside a white Ford van.
Investigators said hot weather in the area may have played a role in the death. Temperatures in the area were reported to have been in the low 90s.
According to health experts, a child’s body can heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s, which can cause major organs to shut down. When the temperature reaches 107, a child can die from the heat.
“We know at some time earlier today, the boy was transported to this facility inside that van,” BSO spokesperson Keyla Concepcion said. “What happened once they arrived here is under investigation. You would think that any facility that deals with children — especially young children — would have some kind of checks and balances or some kind of system. Unfortunately, it’s not the first time that we’ve heard of a case like this happening. These tragedies continue to happen, so we expect — or hope — that facilities who deal with children have checks and balances or some kind of system in place to prevent these incidents from occurring.”
Parents like Ranesha McPhee left their jobs to come pick up their children from the day care.
“I’m still on the clock,” McPhee said. “I had to run over here to get him because I was trying to figure out what’s going on, so when I called the day care, she was like, ‘Send somebody over here to get your kid immediately,’ so I just ran out of the job and came straight over here. I just want to get my kids. That’s all I want: is my kids from the day care.”
The day care was last inspected in April, and they were found in compliance of all requirements, including transportation.
Lavonya Roach called the day care to check on her three children after learning of the incident.
“When I called, the young lady — the assistant director — she did tell me, ‘Your kids are fine at that time, but you have to come pick them up from a different site,'” Roach said. “Totally unacceptable. Death is never acceptable, especially not with a minor, and I think it comes from not having experience or well-balanced people taking care of the kids.”
7Skyforce HD hovered over the scene where cruisers and fire rescue units could be seen outside of the pre-school.
Aerial footage also showed a yellow tarp covering the right side and the windshield of the van parked outside of the school.
Investigators could also be seen walking around the scene and focusing their attention on the van. Cameras eventually captured the toddler’s body being removed and put into the back of the medical examiner’s SUV.
Florence, a volunteer at the day care, was at the center when employees realized that something had happened.
“Yes, I hear one of the kids say he was sleeping in the van,” Florence said. “They all sad. They all sad. We love the children. He was a quiet little boy.”
After waiting for several hours to pick up her child, one mother left in frustration.
Kysha Johnson, who lives nearby, was left wondering how someone could leave a child inside the van.
“Who’s not counting these children? How can you tell a parent that now I’m responsible for your child’s death? I can’t. I can’t. That’s just … it’s disheartening, definitely,” she said.
Parents who had children inside the day care picked up their children at the Oakland Park Fire Station at Northwest 39th Street and 21st Avenue.
7News cameras captured a woman breaking down in tears while another woman hugged her in the doorway of the fire station.
“It’s a baby,” one woman said. “Can you imagine coming from work thinking you’ll see your child, and then someone tells you your child is dead? I can feel her pain. I can feel the mother because I’m a mother, so yeah, that’s a baby, man.”
Deputies said they brought the toddler’s mother to BSO’s Public Safety Headquarters, where they notified her of the death.
The driver of the van has not been identified, and the vehicle has since been towed away from the scene.
7News has reached out to the day care’s owner, but we have yet to hear back.
The incident remains under active investigation.
Sneed is the 24th child across the U.S. to die in a hot car in 2019.
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