News January 17, 2022 at 10:00 am

Four-year-old left in freezing van for nine hours after daycare staff forgot about her

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

Francis Akhalbey January 17, 2022 at 10:00 am

January 17, 2022 at 10:00 am | News

Makyia Artis, 4, was left in a van outside her daycare for nine hours -- Photo via 13WHAM

A four-year-old girl was left in a van for nine hours in freezing temperatures outside her daycare after a staff member reportedly forgot to take her inside the school. According to 13WHAM, the incident happened outside the premises of the Living Waters Child Care in Rochester on January 7.

In an interview with the news outlet on Sunday, Makyia Artis’ family said daycare staff only realized the minor had been left in the van after school closed. Makyia’s grandmother, Brenda Powell, also said the minor was dropped off at home an hour late.

“My daughter said she ran to the couch and threw a blanket over herself. She jumped straight under the blanket with her and said she was real cold and was shivering,” Powell said.

After realizing what had happened, a driver reportedly gave Makyia $3 to keep mute about the incident. The minor, however, reported it to her mother. “Had my granddaughter not told my daughter what happened, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now. We wouldn’t have known. They wouldn’t have told us anything about it,” Powell said.

The incident was confirmed by the owner of the daycare, Sara Dunbar. She said a staff member responsible for transportation forgot Makyia was in the van and did not mark her attendance that day. Employees in the daycare also assumed she was absent.

“We thought this child was absent – I didn’t know until i actually received a call from the parent saying her child came home saying she was on the van. So it was a really horrible situation and I would never downplay it,” Dunbar said, adding that the driver of the van and the monitor were shortly relieved of their duties in the aftermath of the incident. Dunbar also said she got in touch with authorities to report the incident.

The Rochester Police Department is currently investigating the case. RPD said Makyia was also screened by the EMS for symptoms of exposure, but she was eventually cleared, 13WHAM reported.

“We are continuing this investigation to determine what exactly occurred and if/what criminal charges are applicable,” RPD said.

And though Makyia’s family said they’re thankful nothing happened to the minor, Powell said the incident has left them shaken. “I haven’t slept since it happened. She weighs anywhere from 20 to 25 pounds. I can just see her balled up on a leather seat in a bus for nine whole hours,” she said.

Powell also advised parents and guardians to always be wary. “Always, always, always ask questions,” she said. “’How was your day? What happened in daycare or school today?’ Throw those questions out to your kids, so that their child will be the same way and won’t wind up going through things and they won’t even know about it.”

Makyia has since been withdrawn from the daycare. The minor’s family also said they plan to sue the school.

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