Thurston, 46, is charged with manslaughter. It is unclear if she has acquired the services of an attorney.
According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Thurston was responsible for driving the van for Ceressa’s Day Care & Preschool, which picks up and drops off the center’s Oakland Park students every day. On July 29, she picked up Noah at approximately 9:02 a.m. and arrived at the daycare center about 30 minutes later.
Noah wasn’t found by a staffer until around 3 p.m., and by then, he had already passed away. The Broward medical examiner determined that the two-year-old died from hyperthermia as a result of being left inside a hot vehicle for several hours.
An investigation by Broward County’s Child Care Licensing and Enforcement unit revealed that Thurston failed to follow several county protocols. Thurston told investigators that she didn’t properly use a child safety alarm. She reportedly said she turned the alarm off before checking to make sure all the kids she was transporting on that morning got out of the van, which is against a county ordinance.
“Upon arriving at the daycare, Thurston disengaged the van’s safety alarm before removing the children from the vehicle,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release. “Noah was left inside.”
Investigators also learned that there was no transportation log, student attendance wasn’t taken, and Noah wasn’t strapped into a car seat.
Ceressa’s Day Care & Preschool was slapped with five Class 1 violations. The center’s owner, Lakeila Harris, voluntarily surrendered her operating license. The center has since been permanently shut down.
“We’re very happy that an arrest has been made, but we want to know what is going to happen to the director and owner,” Noah’s great-aunt, Teresa Brown, told the press Friday. “We always wonder what took them so long. They dragged their feet.”
The sheriff’s office didn’t say if anyone else will be charged in the case.
Noah is the 25th child to die in the U.S. after being left in a hot vehicle this year. 16 more children have died since his tragic death on July 29.
This isn’t the first time a daycare staffer in South Florida has been charged with manslaughter after a child died in a vehicle. In 2016, Karen Julissa Aviles, who operated the Vision of Life Academy in Miami, was charged with aggravated manslaughter for her involvement in the death of two-year-old Angel Matute-Chavez. Aviles, 36, allegedly left Angel inside a daycare van for at least six hours.
In 2015, Lelier Perez Hernandez of Homestead pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the 2011 death of one-year-old Dominicue Andrews, who died after he was left in a van for Jomiba Learning Center. Hernandez received a six-month jail sentence and seven years of probation.
Broward County Manslaughter Attorney
If you are involved in a manslaughter case, then you should hire an attorney. Contact us to set up a free initial consultation and work with one of Broward County’s most experienced defense attorneys.