An arrest has been made after a 1-year-old child died when she was left in a hot van at an Omaha, Nebraska day care on Monday, according to Omaha police.
Authorities responded to a call about an unresponsive child around 3:06 p.m. on Monday and arrived at Kidz of the Future Child Development Center to discover Ra’Miyah Worthington had been left in a hot car for an unspecified amount of time.
Omaha is currently under an excessive heat warning and temperatures Monday climbed upwards of 99 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures inside a car can typically rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes and can be 40 degrees higher than outside in under an hour.
The local fire departments and medics transported the child to a nearby medical center where she was declared dead, said police. They have since arrested the van driver, 62-year-old Ryan Williams, for child abuse by neglect resulting in death.
According to the unit investigating the tragic event, Williams is an official employee of the Kidz of the Future Child Development Center and the van is confirmed as belonging to the daycare for use in transporting children. The Department of Health and Human Services has also opened an investigation into the daycare itself and will be looking into the facility’s licensure.
As the investigation is ongoing, police still have not confirmed how long the child was left in the van. They said the daycare has been cooperative in the investigation.
Kidz of the Future Child Development Center did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Extreme heat victims:Extreme heat kills and maims. Here are some of its victims from across the US.
Parents Rianna Worthington and Sina Johnson Worthington told local station WOWT that they had sent three of their children off to the daycare that morning. They said that an app for parents showed Ra’Miyah had never been checked in to the facility, leading them to believe she had never been taken out of the car after she was picked up that morning.
“My thing is how can you forget a kid that you yourself put into the vehicle, but you took the other two off? How do you forget one when you take two off the van? How did you forget my baby?” Rianna told WOWT.
According to a GoFundMe started for the family, Ra’Miyah was the youngest of six children. Memories shared by friends and family on social media showed Ra’Miyah laughing, smiling and dancing and described her as a “happy” and “cheerful” child who loved food.
Posts expressing support for the parents have flooded Facebook and other social media platforms, with many calling for justice and closure of the daycare.
Hot car deaths and kids:Well-meaning parents’ mistakes kill thousands of kids each year. What can be done?
Hot car safety
According to Kids and Car Safety, a national nonprofit focused on preventing injuries and deaths of children in and around cars, this is at least the 19th child to die in a hot car nationwide this year. 2021 data compiled by the nonprofit shows:
- More than 1,050 children have died in hot cars nationwide since 1990 and at least another 7,300 survived with varying types and severities of injuries.
- Approximately 87% of children who die in hot cars are age 3 or younger and the majority (56%) were unknowingly left by an otherwise loving, responsible parent or caregiver.
- Of the children who were unknowingly left, about 12% were left by a childcare provider.
The organization offers a variety of tips for ensuring hot car safety, including:
- Make sure your child is never left alone in a car.
- Place the child’s diaper bag or item in the front passenger seat as a visual cue that the child is with you.
- Make it a habit of opening the back door every time you park to ensure no one is left behind. To enforce this habit, place an item that you can’t start your day without in the back seat (employee badge, laptop, phone, handbag, etc.)
- Ask your childcare provider to call you right away if your child hasn’t arrived as scheduled.
- Clearly announce and confirm who is getting each child out of the vehicle. Miscommunication can lead to thinking someone else removed the child.
Make sure children cannot get into a parked car:
- Keep vehicles locked at all times, especially in the garage or driveway. Ask neighbors and visitors to do the same.
- Never leave car keys within reach of children.
- Use childproofing knob covers and door alarms to prevent children from exiting your home unnoticed.
- Teach children to honk the horn or turn on hazard lights if they become stuck inside a car.
- If a child is missing, immediately check the inside, floorboards and trunk of all vehicles in the area carefully, even if they’re locked.