Orlando boy dies in day care van; family demands justice at vigil

By Jerry Hume, Sarah Panko, Jeff Allen, Erin Murray, Digital Media Producers, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 08, 2017, 10:59 PM EDT

Criminal charges will be filed against a worker at a day care center after a 3-year-old boy was found dead inside a van Monday night, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.

Myles K. Hill, who would have turned 4 years old on Aug. 22, was found dead in the back of a van at the Little Miracles Academy on Gore Street and Plymouth Avenue in west Orlando.

“Nobody knew that this innocent little 3-year-old was missing? Nobody?” asked his aunt, Vivian Chaney.

On Tuesday evening, family and friends of the boy held vigil outside the day care and demanded justice. About 100 people surrounded a memorial for Myles. 

“My grandchild suffered, and you know me as a friend, and you need to step up,” said grandfather Corey Esters. 

The family wants the daycare to be shut down and for the owners to reach out to the family to explain what happened.

"That is all we want you to do, is come up and own up to this. We are supposed to be friends, and you need to come own up to this," said grandmother Barbara Banks.

“I love him, and I just put everything in God’s hands," said grandmother Brenda Watts. "I know that justice will be served.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family, to help with funeral expenses.

Charges pending against the driver

At a news conference Tuesday, Mina said the day care worker who has pending criminal charges was the driver of the van. An initial investigation determined that the worker picked up Myles and a group of other kids and was supposed to drop them off at Little Miracles Academy's other location on Colonial Drive.

But the worker did not realize that Myles was still in the van.

Investigators think Myles was in the van for 13 hours during the day. He was not found until the boy’s grandmother called after the boy was not dropped off at home in the evening.

The day care worker who will be charged has been cooperating in the police investigation and admitted to not performing a head count, Mina said.

"She's extremely distraught," he said of the worker.

An autopsy is being conducted on Myles, but "we believe that based on the evidence at the scene, his death is going to be heat-related," Mina said.

“It’s foul play somewhere, because how do you leave a 3-year-old baby in a car, alone, by himself, and not know he’s missing? There should have been some kind of head count,” Chaney said.

Myles' family had even called the day care center earlier in the day to ask about school uniforms and Myles' attendance that day never came up in the conversation, his aunt said.

A woman who answered the phone number for Little Miracles Academy said “no comment” Tuesday. A sign on the door of the Plymouth Avenue entrance reads, “Closed until further notice.”

"How could you forget a child? What happened to actually getting out (and) walking around the vehicle, checking each row, making sure every child is accounted for?" asked another aunt, Stacy Irvin. "Let us know what really happened. Justice should be served. We need closure, we need closure. He didn’t deserve this."​

The Florida Department of Children and Families is also investigating.

Past citation

The day care center was cited in the past for issues related to logging and the transport vehicle, Mina said.

A DCF inspection report from July for the Little Miracles Academy on Plymouth Avenue shows the day care was mostly compliant, except for transportation, where DCF found the facility’s log for children transported did not include information on destination time, arrival time, destination location and departure location. As a result, DCF found the day care noncompliant as of July 11.

Hot-car deaths 'can be avoided'

Mina underscored how Myles' death could have been prevented and implored parents and guardians to always check their vehicles.

"I just wanted to take a minute to plead, to please ensure that we are checking our vehicles for our kids," Mina said. "It just takes a minute, and I know we're all distracted... but we have to do something... so that tragedies like this can be avoided."

He said Myles was the 32nd child who has died in a hot vehicle this year in the country and the fifth in the state of Florida.

"This is a tragedy first and foremost, for the grandmother, parents, for everyone who's related to the child," Mina said. "It's a tragedy for all of us. It hurts all of us. It's a tragedy for officers who have to respond and deal with a dead child. Our detectives have children. First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the grandmother, who has custody of Myles. We pray for them.

"This is your worst nightmare come true," Mina said.

Memorial grows

A makeshift memorial is growing outside Little Miracles Academy, where Myles was found dead inside a van.

People who knew the boy — as well as those who didn't — were coming Tuesday to the intersection to place flowers and balloons on a concrete pillar across the street.

The Florida Department of Health showed up in the morning, along with parents and grandparents who use the day care. They said they weren't notified that the day care would be closed Tuesday.

"I send condolences out to the mother, from a mother. I feel your pain and I feel sorry for you," Ancion Mesidor said.

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