Police: Child left in van dies

DSS considers action against BR day care
Advocate staff writers
Published: Jul 2, 2009 - Page: 1A

A 3-year-old girl died Wednesday after being left inside a day-care center van parked in an uncovered driveway for almost six hours.

Wanda’s Kids World employees found Damiyn McElveen just before 3 p.m., when they walked outside to open the blue-and-white van, said Sgt. Don Kelly, a spokesman with the Baton Rouge Police Department.

The employees brought Damiyn inside the building at 2839 Brady St. and tried to administer CPR, but the child could not be revived, Kelly said.

She was pronounced dead at the scene, presumably from heat-related causes, he said.

Temperatures Wednesday in Baton Rouge hit a high of 99 degrees, said Tim Destri, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Slidell.

It appears the child and her three siblings were picked up by day-care employees about 9 a.m. and that Damiyn was overlooked when the van was unloaded, Kelly said. Investigators are unsure how many children were inside the van, but know three adults were present, he said.

Although no one had been arrested in the incident as of late Wednesday, Kelly said, day-care center owners and employees were brought to police headquarters and questioned as to “how this tragedy could occur.”

Standing outside with other distraught people picking up children from the center Wednesday, Charetta Ellis said she won’t let her 3-year-old grandson “come back here.”

Like Damiyn, Ellis’ grandson rode the van to the day-care center Wednesday morning.

She said she went to the center after getting a frantic phone call from her daughter, who said the van did not make the afternoon stop.

Police declined to release the names of those they questioned, but Wanda and William Connor are listed on Louisiana secretary of state records as registered agents for the center.

Wanda Connor is listed on state Department of Social Services documents as director of the day-care center.

Calls made late Wednesday to the day-care center and to the Connors’ home were not answered. Damiyn’s mother was contacted Wednesday afternoon at the girl’s 3002 E. Mason home, but declined comment.