HOMESTEAD (CBS4) – The family and friends of a toddler who died after being left inside a sweltering daycare van plan to hold a protest Monday afternoon in front of the home of the van’s driver.
On Saturday, Lelier Perez Hernandez, 23, bonded out of jail. He was charged on Friday with aggravated manslaughter of a child and tampering with physical evidence. Hernandez was the driver of the Jomiba Learning Center daycare van on July 12th, the day 22-month old Dominicue Andrews died.
Andrews’ family members are angry that Perez Hernandez has been charged with manslaughter, they feel he should have been charged with murder.
“I’m not going to let this man just walk free, like it’s okay,” the child’s mother, Porsha Andrews, told CBS4 News on Saturday.
Andrews said she can’t believe that Perez Hernandez was allowed to bond out of jail because she said the allegations of a cover-up are just too serious.
The boy’s grandmother Atila Bryant said she wants justice.
According to the arrest affidavit, Hernandez left Dominicue in the van all day long, while he remained strapped in his car seat.
It all started at 7:30 a.m. when Hernandez picked up Dominicue. The toddler was still sleeping and was buckled into a car seat for the ride to the daycare center. Approximately 15 other children were also picked up. Hernandez, police said, had two opportunities to find Dominicue in the van and failed both times.
The first took place when the kids first got off the van while parked at the entrance of the daycare and the second was when he moved the van from the front of the daycare to the parking lot. Neither time, police say, did Hernandez check the van, as required, for any children who may have been left behind.
Hours later, when Dominicue’s teacher realized the toddler was missing, Hernandez checked the van and saw the boy still strapped into his car seat, unresponsive and not moving. The affidavit states Hernandez picked up Dominicue and placed his body on a concrete slab on the east side of the school but didn’t tell anyone he had found the child. Then, he simply joined the search that had been started by daycare staff. Dominicue’s body was found a short time later but it was too late.
Hernandez later admitted to police that he forgot the child was in the van and did not properly check the van once the kids were off.
An autopsy determined Dominicue died from asphyxiation and the manner of his death of accidental. Temperatures that day were in the 90s which means it was much hotter inside the van.
The Jomiba Learning Center remains closed pending an investigation by DCF and Miami-Dade Police.
Attorneys for Andrews’ family have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the daycare, saying that the facility was negligent and failed to protect the toddler. The lawsuit also claimed that workers were improperly trained and supervised.