A forgotten 4-year-old girl spent around seven hours in a daycare van on a frigid day in Rochester, New York, the owner said.
Two daycare workers were immediately fired, Living Waters Childcare owner Sara Dunbar told McClatchy News of the Jan. 7 incident.
Makyia Artis was picked up by a daycare driver around 9:15 a.m. that day and was left inside the van for several hours due to a lack of protocol until she was discovered after children at the center were loaded in the vehicle to go home, Dunbar said. Makyia arrived home around 4:15 p.m.
Makyia felt “a little lethargic and tired” at pick up and the van monitor told her she could lay down in the van’s back seat, causing her head to no longer be visible upon arrival at the daycare, according to Dunbar. The monitor allegedly didn’t follow protocols when arriving at the center and Makyia was forgotten inside the van and marked absent for the day.
At the end of the day, when the high temperature in Rochester was 24 degrees, the driver got the vehicle “and that’s when (Makyia) was noticed because she was sitting up in the back of the van,” Dunbar said.
The child’s grandmother, Brenda Powell, told WROC that Makyia was in the van for hours and that it was snowing all day.
“The bus seats are leather, and windows had to have been covered in snow, where she couldn’t even see out because it snowed all day long. So she just slept balled up in a ball on a cold leather seat for nine hours,” Powell told the outlet.
When Makyia was dropped off, her mom called Dunbar minutes later to say her daughter spent the entire day in the van and Dunbar said she was unaware of that. Dunbar then said she confronted the driver, who apologized to her about what happened.
“My heart just dropped,” she said, adding that she apologized to Makyia’s parents.
They told her Makyia was “fine” but both her legs and feet were cold and they were going to see if they needed to take her to a hospital, according to Dunbar.
The van driver and monitor were both fired “immediately,” Dunbar said, adding that she reported what happened to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and the state’s Central Registry.
“I was so distraught and I was just so hurt. I’m like, ‘Why did you guys not follow protocols?’”
Dunbar went to Makyia’s home to check on her around 6 p.m. that day and spoke with her mom to “express how sorry I was.”
Powell told 13WHAM that the driver gave Makyia $3 and requested she not say anything about being left behind.
Dunbar confirmed that the driver gave Makyia the money but couldn’t confirm if the driver asked her to stay silent about the incident.
Police spoke with Dunbar to follow up on the incident on Jan. 11 and said Makyia’s mom didn’t want to initiate a “civil suit” but “they had to do their part” by doing a police report.
McClatchy News reached out to the Rochester Police Department on Jan. 11 and was awaiting a response.
“It’s an unfortunate and tragic situation, but the most important thing was the child is OK,” Dunbar said.
Rochester is located in upstate New York , about 74 miles northeast of Buffalo.