HOMESTEAD (CBS4) – Family and friends gathered Friday for a second time to honor and remember a toddler who died while at a Homestead daycare facility.
A private vigil was held Friday night for 22-month-old Dominicue Andrews. Wearing white, surrounded by blue balloons, the family vowed not to stand by in silence.READ MORE: Housing Crisis: County Mayors Hold Roundtable On Skyrocketing Rents
“I want to know the cause of death,” the boy’s mother Porsha Andrews said. “I want to know why these people aren’t put behind bars and why justice is not being served.”
Tough questions plague the 16-year-old mother who lost her son, and the family standing behind her, three days after he died at the Jomiba Learning Center.
“I really don’t know what happened, but I would love to know what happened to my nephew,” the boy’s aunt Dawn Goods said. “I would love to know what his final hours were like.”
Sources close to the investigation has told CBS4’s Jim DeFede that 22-month-old Dominicue Andrews died as a result of asphyxiation after being left in a van earlier this week.
A source said the driver of the van for the Jomiba Learning Center did not conduct a head count on the children. Investigators also believe the child never got out of the van, despite an uncle’s claim to have seen the boy inside the learning center.
“There is no evidence that supports the idea the child got out of the van and then somehow got back inside later,” the source told DeFede.
After someone inside the school noticed in the afternoon the boy wasn’t there, the driver raced to the van and found the boy’s body, the source said.
But the family said they did not receive any confirmation on that information.
Dominicue’s aunt, Janice Riggins, has told CBS4 News that his body has been released to the family and they were expected to receive a cause of death from the Medical Examiner’s office sometime by the end of Friday.
Meanwhile, the family stands together united in grief as they search for answers.
“I’m glad that they are here to support me and my child,” Andrews said. “That shows me how many loved ones he had in his family that loved him very much.”
The boy’s mother and family are suing the daycare where the boy died earlier this week.
Their attorney Andrew Yaffa said he was filing the wrongful death lawsuit against the daycare because he said it failed to properly protect the toddler and said the facility did not properly train and supervise its employees.READ MORE: Deadly Hit & Run Near Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Yaffa also said the daycare did not maintain proper logs for children on the van and said a second employee should have been assigned to make sure that no child was left behind.
The family’s suit against the day care lists numerous charges of negligence surrounding Jomiba’s transportation service.
Andrews’ death sent shockwaves throughout the community. Visitors have left teddy bears, candles, and balloons where Dominicue was found.
“He was a child of God,” said Laverne O’Reilly. “Somebody disregarded this child. I feel the parents pain. No child should have had to go through this. He deserved a chance to live and all this was taken away.”
The toddler’s grandmother, Atila Bryant, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “It’s just so bad that this baby died from negligence. It hurts so much. He loved life. This was really sad. I would like to see justice and would like to see this center closed completely. What people don’t realize is that there were two people watching the kids on the bus.”
“I don’t want to see something like this ever happening again,” said Bryant. “Never, ever again.”
According to the state Department of Children and Families, the daycare’s owner, Misael Ramos, was the only person authorized to transport children on the van. But Andrews’ grandmother Atila Bryant said at Thursday’s news conference that she saw another man, not Ramos, driving the van during the two weeks her family used the free service.
State records say the Jomiba Learning Center has only been open for nine months. However, CBS4’s I-Team has learned that a different daycare run by the same owners as Jomiba, had extensive problems complying with state rules.
During Jomiba’s last inspection in June, only minor paperwork problems were cited. There was a note in the report about transportation services.
“No children being transported at this time, however, counselor provided tech support to director concerning importance of completing the log (of the van) accurately and about the van sweep when taking children out of the van.”
Department of Children and Families spokesman Mark Riordan said they are trying to determine whether workers completed the proper sweep of the van or whether the little boy somehow got back on the van.
“That’s what we’re looking into right now. A child has died who was in the care of that daycare center. And that it is a serious violation and allegation,” said Riordan.
Depending on the results of their investigation, the daycare could face fines or even face closure.
Jacqui Colyer with DCF said the state is considering suspending the center’s license and has already begun the paperwork.
The Early Learning Coalition has pulled funding for the Jomiba Learning Center which will remain closed until the investigation is complete.
A decision on what, if any, charges may be filed will be determined next week after police and prosecutors discuss all of the evidence.MORE NEWS: Tractor Trailer Rollover Shuts Down Section Of Turnpike In Miami Gardens
“We really don’t know all the facts, but I hope the investigation will get to the bottom of this,” Laverne O’Reilly said.