A 5-year-old was found dead in a day care van at a children’s health clinic in West Memphis, Ark., after being left in the vehicle all day in the sweltering heat.
According to WMC, the West Memphis Police Department said that Christopher Gardner Jr. was found dead in a booster seat around 3:30 p.m. Monday. His family said that he was picked up around 6:30 a.m., with his mother signing a sheet of paper indicating that he had been collected. The van carrying Christopher arrived at the facility around 7:15 a.m., and he was signed into the Ascent Children’s Health Services facility, despite the fact that he never made it off the bus.
“You can see that my great-grandbaby suffered in that van,” Christopher’s great-grandmother Carrie Smith told the news station. “That wasn’t right.”
She said that Christopher would get off the van every afternoon from school expecting one thing: cookies.
“When he got off the van he’d say, ‘Granny, have you got me a cookie today?’” Smith said.
The news station notes that it is not clear why Christopher did not, or could not, get off the van. It is estimated that he spent more than eight hours in the vehicle before being discovered.
Sources told the news station that a driver and another adult were on the van, and yet somehow Christopher was forgotten.
“They didn’t get off their—excuse my language—off their asses and look. I’m very upset about it. They didn’t look, and they can’t tell me they looked,” Christopher’s outraged great-grandmother said. “They didn’t.”
The family said that Christopher was going to the facility for developmental issues, having had two heart surgeries already in his short life. He had been going to Ascent since he was 1 year old. As WMC notes, the facility is described as a place that “provides quality outpatient and day treatment services to children and their families that are in need of mental health or developmental care.”
On Monday, temperatures in West Memphis climbed to 80 degrees. For Christopher, the temperature in the van would have risen to at least 114 degrees after just 30 minutes.
Both the Police Department and the state Department of Human Services are investigating the child’s death; the state department is also looking into the history of the day care.
Read more at WMC.