Day care driver arrested after 3-year-old boy found dead in hot van

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PHOTO VIA GOOGLE MAPS
  • Photo via Google Maps
The day care driver accused in the death of a 3-year-old boy who was left for hours in a hot van has been arrested.

Deborah St. Charles - PHOTO VIA ORLANDO POLICE
  • Photo via Orlando Police
  • Deborah St. Charles
Orlando Police say Deborah St. Charles, 51, is facing charges of aggravated manslaughter in the death of Myles Hill. St. Charles was an employee at the Little Miracles Academy day care on 900 Plymouth Ave. where Myles was found dead on Monday.

Investigators say they received a call from another employee at that location around 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 7 regarding a dead child. Police found the toddler in the backseat of Honda Odyssey, according to the arrest report.

St. Charles allegedly told detectives that around 7:40 a.m. earlier that morning, she had picked up Myles from the apartment where he lived with his family, collected daycare payment from Myles' great grandmother and placed him on the van's rear bench seat. She then picked up another child and drove to the Little Miracles Academy location on West Colonial Drive. After arriving, St. Charles reportedly exited the vehicles and removed cleaning supplies from the trunk, giving them to the children to take inside. She closed the back rear hatch and walked into the day care. Police say St. Charles assumed all the children in the van had walked inside the facility, but did not do a headcount, according to the report.

St. Charles gave the payment from Myles' family to the day care center and left back to the location on 900 Plymouth Ave. Investigators say she got a call as she arrived and was on the phone when she opened the driver's side sliding door to grab some of her personal belongings. The arrest affidavit says St. Charles walked away from the van into the day care center, leaving inside Myles, who was weeks shy of turning 4. Almost 12 hours later, day care workers finally found him inside the van after his family reported him missing. Investigators recreated a simulation of what the heat was like in the van on the day Myles died, and found temperatures reaching 144 degrees. The Orange County medical examiner's office listed Myles' cause of death as hyperthermia due to environmental exposure.

Myles Hill - PHOTO VIA HILL FAMILY/WFTV
Police say driver's logs that were supposed to account for the children were not kept to the standard required by Florida law. The logs did not include the driver or second employee signature verifying that they had concluded a vehicle sweep. The report says St. Charles failed to conduct a visual sweep at the first and second location to clear the vehicle of all children.

"The suspect's failure to locate the decedent in the vehicle prior to locking the doors placed him in grave danger and subjected him to temperatures between 100 to 144 degrees, which is the unbearable environment that caused his death," the arrest affidavit says. "This negligent act was committed with an utter disregard for the safety of the children she is responsible for transporting during the normal course of duties as a daycare service provider and driver of the child care transport vehicle."

St. Charles was arrested Thursday and held at the Orange County jail on a $30,000 bond. The Orlando Sentinel reports the Florida Department of Children and Families has revoked the operating license for the two locations owned by Little Miracles Academy.

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