HOMESTEAD (CBS4) – Criminal charges have been filed against the driver of a daycare van in connection with the death of a 22-month-old toddler in Homestead, who was left inside the sweltering hot van.
Miami-Dade Police have charged Lelier Perez Hernandez, 23, with Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child and Tampering with Physical Evidence.READ MORE: South Florida Man Accused Of Setting Wife On Fire, Hitting Her With His Car
Hernandez was the driver of the Jomiba Learning Center daycare van on July 12th, the day Dominicue Andrews died.
“He was in daycare two months, two months, and he hadn’t been on that van but two weeks,” the boy’s grandmother Atila Bryant told CBS4’s Gio Benitez when she heard of the arrest. ” I’m going to see to it that justice is done for my grandbaby, and the charge that they’re giving him, he needs more than that. And there’s more people behind what happened to that baby.”
According to the arrest affidavit, Hernandez is responsible for leaving Dominicue on the van all day long, while he remained strapped in his car seat.READ MORE: Opa-locka Hialeah Flea Market Vendors: 'We have to leave like dogs'
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 say, then had two opportunities to find Dominicue on 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.MORE NEWS: Taste Of The Town: Ball And Chain Serving Up Cuban Classics With A Side OF Salsa Music For 8 Decades
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.