BOCA RATON (CBS4) – It’s been a year since two-year-old Haile Brockington was left to die a daycare van. Now, the owner of that facility is opening up and talking about the tragic death.
“I think about Haile every day,” said Kathryn Muhammad.
She used to operate Kaite’s Kids in Delray Beach, which is where Haile died. Muhammad now carries a picture of the child everywhere.
“I do feel responsible, it was my corporation,” Muhammad said.
Delray Beach Police arrested the driver of the van, Amanda Inman, and charged her with aggravated manslaughter for not checking to make sure Haile was taken off the van.
Last November, police made an additional arrest charging the center director Petra Rodriguez Perez with aggravated manslaughter for falsifying the records that Haile had been checked into the center that morning.
Muhammad was on vacation and in New York when she got the phone call about Haile Brockington’s death.
“I collapsed. I was in New York and they had cancelled all the flights,” Muhammad said. “No one at the center was picking up the phone. I had trouble sleeping that night. I still have trouble sleeping at night.”
And the nightmare continued after the death because Muhammad had to close all four of her child care centers.
She said she is saddened when she sees children being left on buses and vans. Only last month a toddler died in Homestead after being left on a daycare van.
In May, a Broward school bus driver left behind a six-year-old special needs child strapped in his seat for four hours at a Pembroke Pines depot. The child survived and the driver was arrested for neglect.
“There’s always gonna be human error and by having an alarm system there, it will make sure it won’t happen,” said Muhammad, now an advocate for installing alarms on all vehicles transporting children.
The alarms cost about $250 and sound once the driver shuts off the engine. The driver is forced to go to the back of the bus to turn it off; making sure no child is in their seat. The Florida Legislature considered mandating the alarms last session, but it did not pass in the state House.
Muhammad said she will try to revive it next year.
“It was my lifelong dream to help children, and I’m going to take a different role by advocating for this and to make sure this bill passes,” said Muhammad.
Muhammad is in the process of completing her Bachelor’s degree at Florida Atlantic University. She said she has taken student loans to survive and may pursue a law degree in the future.
As for the tragedy she lives with everyday, “It’s made me strong and in a sense it’s changed my views of what I’ll do with my life. I’m trying to take this tragedy and turn it into a positive.”