Local News

State Moves To Shut Down Youngsville Day Care Where Girl Died

Posted February 6, 2003

— The North Carolina Division of Child Development has begun the process of shutting down Corinth Chistian Academy in Youngsville, where a 2-year-old died last September after being left unattended in the facility's van for several hours in intense heat.

The academy has 14 more days to respond and can stay open while the appeals process is in effect.

"This is standard procedure for us," said DCD Director Peggy Ball. "Anytime we find that a death was the result of negligence or abuse on the part of the facility operator, we move to close that facility down."

Ranika Clifton, 2, died from what the medical examiner called environmental hyperthermia. Van driver Tim Day apparently forgot Clifton was in the van after picking her up on the morning of Sept. 17 to take her to the academy.

Clifton was found more than seven hours later still in her seat.

According to investigators, the temperature inside the van rose to at least 104 degrees.

"Child-care operators have a very important mission - protecting children," Ball said. "If they fail in that mission, then we must take action."

The sheriff's office said Day had picked up Clifton at her home around 7 a.m. Deputies said Day, a volunteer driver, parked the van at the church and left to take another van loaded with children to a nearby elementary school without taking Clifton out of her safety seat.

Deputies said Day went back to the church to get the other van around 3:30 p.m. and discovered the girl. Rescue teams were called, but it was too late to revive her.

Cynthia Lucas, Clifton's aunt, said her niece had attended the day care for about a month and was in good health.

"They said she was sitting behind the driver," Lucas said. "There shouldn't have been more than six or eight kids on the bus, so how was she the only one left on the bus?

"There's no excuse for that."

An extensive DCD investigation found several violations of the center's license, including:

  • Day's failure to ensure that child passengers are transferred to the custody of child-care workers, as required by supervision and transportation rules.
  • No one at the facility had current CPR certification. Regulatiions state that at least one person on the premises at all times must have successfully completed a CPR course annually.
  • There was no personnel file for the van driver.
  • There was no written permission on file for transporting the victim.
  • Despite the violations, several parents and grandparents believe the facility is still a safe place.

    "This is a concern, but I think this will make the situation a lot better," said Sandra Hazelwood, a customer of the facility for six years.

    Said another parent: "It was just a freak accident, but I guess somebody's got to be held accountable."

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