Two New York daycare workers have been fired for forgetting a four-year-old girl in a school van for nine hours in frigid conditions, with the driver of the van allegedly bribing the child $3 to keep quiet.
The two unidentified employees - the driver and a van monitor - at Living Waters Childcare in Rochester were sacked on Friday, the daycare owner, Sara Dunbar, said following the Jan. 7 incident.
The Daycare Workers Did Not Follow Protocols
Makyia Artis was picked up by a daycare driver around 9:15 a.m. that day and was left inside the van for several hours due to a lack of protocol until she was discovered after children at the centre were loaded in the vehicle to go home, Dunbar said. Artis arrived home at around 4:15 p.m.
Artis felt "a little lethargic and tired" at pick up and the van monitor told her she could lay down in the van's back seat, causing her head to no longer be visible upon arrival at the daycare, according to Dunbar. The monitor allegedly didn't follow protocols when arriving at the center and the child was forgotten inside the van and marked absent for the day.
Driver Bribed the Child $3, Asked Her to Remain Quiet
At the end of the day, when the highest temperature in Rochester was 24 degrees, the driver noticed Artis as she was sitting up in the back of the van. He then allegedly offered Artis $3 to stay quiet about the screwup, but the little girl eventually opened up to her mother after arriving home in the evening, according to the family. The child's grandmother, Brenda Powell, told a local news outlet that Makyia was in the van for hours and that it was snowing all day.
"My daughter said she ran to the couch and threw a blanket over herself. She jumped straight under the blanket with her and said she was really cold and was shivering," Powell told WHAM 13. "Had my granddaughter not told my daughter what happened, we wouldn't be sitting here right now. We wouldn't have known. They wouldn't have told us anything about it."
Driver, Van Monitor Fired, Reported to Police
When Makyia was dropped off, her mom called Dunbar minutes later to say her daughter spent the entire day in the van and Dunbar said she was unaware of that. Dunbar then said she confronted the driver, who apologized to her about what happened.
"My heart just dropped," she said, adding that she apologized to Makyia's parents. They told her Makyia was "fine" but both her legs and feet were cold and they were going to see if they needed to take her to a hospital, according to Dunbar.
The van driver and monitor were both fired "immediately," Dunbar said, adding that she reported what happened to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and the state's Central Registry.
The Rochester Police Department spoke with Dunbar to follow up on the incident on Jan. 11 and said Makyia's mom didn't want to initiate a "civil suit" but "they had to do their part" by filing a police report. The department is investigating to see what criminal charges are applicable. No one has been charged yet.