Women charged in daycare death to appear in court today
CLAYTON COUNTY, GA (CBS ATLANTA) -
The owner of a Clayton County daycare and her daughter are charged in connection with the death of a 2-year-old girl after she was left in a hot van for several hours.
Maria Fallings, 41, and Quantabia Shantell Hopkins, 23, are charged with cruelty to children, involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct in connection to the death of Jazmin Green, 2.
Green died June 20 after being left in a hot van after a field trip.
Police said staff members at Marlo's Magnificent Early Learning Center took the children to Chuck E. Cheese Monday afternoon.
When they returned between 1:30 and 2 p.m., staff members neglected to take 2-year-old Jazmin Green out of the van, police said.
Clayton County police told CBS Atlanta News that no one at the daycare noticed that the girl was missing until around 3:30 p.m., and that's when Hopkins found her in the van.
A staff member called police around 3:45 p.m. and the girl was taken to Southern Regional Medical Center, police said.
"This is one of those things where people don't realize how in this heat accidents can happen and zero seconds is too long to leave any child in a vehicle," said Lt. Tina Daniel.
"She was a little angel," said Jazmin's grandfather, Russell McAlister.
"I don't know what happened," McAlister said as he fought back tears. "But whatever it was, I think it could have been avoided."
CBS Atlanta has learned the state cited operators at Marlo's Magnificent Early Learning Center in October for transportation problems. The state ordered the daycare center to come up with a system to ensure that no children remained on its vehicles. The facility was also cited for not anchoring playground equipment safely.
The improvements were supposed to be completed by the end of March.
The facility did not open for business on the day after the death.
"Those kids mean a lot to Marlo. We really love Jazmin. Our hearts go out to her family. We are praying for them," said Dier Hopkins, Fallings brother.
Parents of other children at the daycare center said they are rethinking keeping them there.
"I couldn't fathom how they actually feel. And my heart goes out to those parents. Me and my husband will definitely have to talk and find out what's the next step for us, for our children," said parent Melissa Hannah.
The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning released the following statement:
"Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is investigating the tragic incident at Marlo's Magnificent Early Learning Center. Once the results of this investigation are determined, our agency will pursue all legal remedies as appropriate."
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