UNION CITY, Ga. - Two people have been charged after a 6-year-old boy was left on a childcare van for more than five hours late Tuesday night.
Union City police arrested 35-year-old Stephanie Marshal and 33-year-old Sheika Waters. Both are being charged with reckless conduct.
It was a long night for Lavetta Kitt and her 6-year-old son Nicholas, who was left in a childcare van for more than four hours Tuesday night.
“I couldn’t breathe. I panicked because he’s 6 and I was thinking ‘where could he be?’ I was scared,” the mother of two told FOX 5’s Kaitlyn Pratt from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Kitt works a night shift and relies on Step of Faith Child Care to transport her children from an aftercare facility back to the 24-hour daycare center on Flat Shoals Road until they can be picked up, usually around 11:30 p.m. But Tuesday night, something went wrong.
“I went in there and I only see my youngest son and so I asked the worker ‘Where is my son?’ And she told me she told me that he didn’t come in,” Kitt said.
Kitt called Union City Police and the owner of the facility to report the missing child. The owner found Nicholas in the same vehicle used to bring him to Step of Faith. Apparently, he had fallen asleep on the way there. But was wide awake, peering out of a window, nearly 5 hours after the van was left in the parking lot.
“He didn't know what to think, but he knows he’s not supposed to get out the car. He told me he was waiting for them to tell him to come get out the car so was just sitting there all those hours,” the frustrated mother said early Wednesday morning.
Nicholas was a little dehydrated, but doctors said he was fine and was all smiles after doctors released him from the hospital just before dawn Wednesday morning.
Rudjard Hayes, the attorney for the childcare center, said the owner of Step of Faith is investigating what led up to what he called a “terribly unfortunate mistake.”
"Everybody is concerned, first and foremost, about the child and then after that, what happened and why it happened. This is not something that has ever happened before," Rudjard told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner Wednesday afternoon.
Bright from the Start, the state agency that licenses and regulates childcare centers will talk to daycare staff and little Nicholas to determine why he was left on the bus for so many hours. Agency spokesman Reg Griffin said it is too early to determine, what, if any, action will be taken against Step of Faith, but added they followed protocol by reporting the incident to the state Wednesday.
“There are policies and procedures that must be followed. It’s a thorough check the first time with the people that were on the trip and a secondary check by someone not on the trip. Sometimes that second set of eyes picks up on things that we might miss the first time,” Griffin told Bruner.
Bright from the Start records indicated the childcare center passed its bi-annual inspections for the last two years.
“We do see these things occasionally, a little more often than we’d like. But it’s important to remember this happens more often with parents and family members than it does with child care centers, so we have to take a moment to remind everyone why it’s important to always check vehicles twice to be sure no children have been left inside,” Griffin said.
For more information about inspection reports at Georgia’s 4,900 child care centers, log on to the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning at decal.ga.gov.