Boy, 3, Dies Locked in Day Care Van

Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. A 3-year-old boy died from apparent heat-related causes after being left in a day-care van for hours, Little Rock police said Tuesday. The driver was charged with manslaughter.

The boy, Marcellus Johnson of Little Rock, was to have been dropped off at his home between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday, Little Rock police spokesman Sgt. Terry Hastings said. Police were called by the boy's parents at 8:09 p.m.

While officers were at the Child Care Center of Arkansas (search) in southwest Little Rock to investigate, the van driver arrived in a private car and told police "he knows where the child is and the child is not OK," Hastings said.

The van driver, Rancocas Foreman, 22, of Little Rock, was charged with manslaughter because he could have easily seen the boy in the van, Hastings said. The temperature reached 94 degrees Monday afternoon in Little Rock.

"The child was clearly visible from the driver's seat," Hastings said.

Marcellus was to have been dropped off first on Foreman's route, but Foreman had trouble making a left turn from a busy street and went on to his next stop, Hastings said. Foreman finished the route and never dropped off the boy, Hastings said.

Foreman went home, parked and locked the van and drove in a private car to his second job. During the evening, he remembered the boy, went home to check the van and found Marcellus' body, Hastings said. Foreman drove in the car to the day-care center where he found police and told them about the boy.

Hastings said the toddler's legs dangled in the aisle of the van.

"It looks like he'd gone to sleep on that bench," Hastings said.

Foreman was free Tuesday from the Pulaski County Jail (search) in lieu of $10,000 bond. Foreman didn't have a listed phone number, and there was no answer Tuesday morning at a phone number for the day-care center.

The police report said the boy's mother, Randi Williams, began calling the daycare when Marcellus didn't show up and eventually made it to the daycare center.

It isn't clear why it took nearly five hours for the police to be notified. The state Department of Human Services has jurisdiction over the center itself.