Woman allegedly left boy in day care's van


Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

A 3-year-old boy spent about three hours alone in 49-degree temperatures inside a locked day-care van before he was discovered missing when his mother came to pick him up Monday evening, Gainesville Police reported.

Officers arrested Patricia Ann Small, 49, of Newberry, the van's driver and a caregiver at the day care, and charged her with child neglect, court records state. She was being held late Tuesday at the Alachua County jail on a $5,000 bond.

Small told officers she didn't take roll call of the children, as usual, when they got out of the van and failed to realize one of her nine passengers had been left behind. The practice is the policy of the day care, Child's Learning Kingdom, 3520 NW 13th St., police reported.

A sign outside the facility lists it as Lil' Ones World 2.

An employee at the day care, reached by phone Tuesday, referred questions to the facility's administrator, who was not available.

The boy's mother could not be reached for comment.

The child wasn't able to get out of the van because it had been locked with the windows rolled up, a police report stated. He was scared, cold and had nothing to eat or drink, police reported.

When the boy's mother and Small located the child, he was asleep on the van's floor board, officers said.

The boy's vital signs and temperature were normal after his experience. The temperature during the three hours had been in the high 40s, police reported.

Small had picked up the child from a Head Start program and drove him to the day care at about 2 p.m., officers said.

But, once there, she became distracted by the departure of another employee, said Lt. Will Halvosa.

Small didn't make sure the boy had left the bus, assuming he had come inside with the rest of the children, according to police. She then became busy with the children already in the day care.

When the boy's mother arrived to pick him up at about 5:30 p.m., he wasn't in class. A search located the missing boy.

Inspections from the county reported that the day care facility, according to county records, had formerly been known as Lil' Ones World II. In September 2005, it had been given an unsatisfactory rating for direct supervision and was fined when four children walked to a playground across a parking lot unsupervised by an adult. Earlier inspections were satisfactory.

Lise Fisher can be reached at (352) 374-5092 or fisherl@gvillesun.com.

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