A toddler has died in the back seat of a hot car after “distracted” US daycare workers allegedly failed to do a proper headcount.
Maliyah Jones, 22 months, and Aubrianna Loya, 2, were left alone in a sweltering van when daycare workers Mary and Sandi Taylor failed to bring them inside at the end of an excursion.
The mother-and-daughter pair had returned the children to their operated and owned Taylor Tots Day Care in Portales, New Mexico.
Sandi, 33, had taken six of the children in their care to a nearby park in July 2017, while her mother Mary, 64, remained at the centre with the other children, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Sandi took four of the six children inside, before allegedly becoming “distracted” and failing to return to the van for the other girls, who remained in the car for over an hour.
“The worker was intending to go back and get (the two left behind), but she got distracted by something — she doesn’t know what — and then began to fill out some paperwork,” Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover told ABC7.
“They put the children down for naps and did not notice the two missing at the time. Later, they realised it and found the children and began to attempt lifesaving procedures and called 911.”
By the time the little girls were discovered, they were not breathing and were suffering from extreme heat exposure, according to a Portales Police Department news release.
“I can tell you it was 32 degrees on Tuesday during the heat of the day,” District Attorney Andrea Reeb told ABC 7 that day.
“The children’s body temperatures were 42 degrees.”
Upon discovering the girls in their condition, the two women immediately called emergency services.
Aubrianna was flown to a Lubbock hospital in a critical condition, and Maliyah died.
The daycare owners were arrested on child abuse charges resulting in the death of a child, and child abuse causing great bodily harm.
On Wednesday, the pair appeared in a Roosevelt County courtroom for the first day of the trial.
Prosecutors presented the 911 call and body camera footage, which showed police finding Maliyah, who was dead, and attempting to revive Aubrianna.
Five witnesses spoke at the trial, including the toddlers’ mothers, and three police officers who responded to the incident.
Both Sandi and Mary face jail time of up to 18 years if found guilty, with the trial expected to continue until February 7.
According to People Magazine, their lawyer Tye Harmon said he would argue the incident was a tragic accident.
Taylor Tot Daycare is now closed.