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Police investigating after toddler left in Kentucky day care van for 9 hours overnight

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – A 3-year-old boy, forgotten by his day care centre’s driver, was left strapped in his car seat alone in a van in a parking lot for more than nine hours overnight.

Lexington Police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said the child was not in distress when he was found about 2 a.m. Thursday. Paramedics examined him and released him to his family.

The police department is investigating the 23-year-old woman who was driving the van, she said. No charges have been filed.

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The child’s mother called police to her apartment when she arrived home from work about midnight Wednesday to say her son was not dropped off from his day care, Precious Jewels School of Excellence.

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She said the day care centre is supposed to bring the child home about 5 p.m. and his 16-year-old sister was at the apartment waiting for him, Angel said.

The mother’s employer does not allow her to have a phone while at work, and her daughter had no way to contact her to let her know the child never arrived home, Angel said. The family is not under investigation.

The day care centre had closed hours earlier, at 6 p.m.

Police officers reached the owners of the day care, who went to the centre and found the boy still strapped into his car seat in the van parked in the lot outside.

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Angel said he is believed to have been in the van from about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday to 2 a.m. Thursday.

The National Weather Service reports that the temperature in Lexington was 84 degrees at 4:30 p.m. It cooled down overnight to about 72 degrees at 2 a.m.

“I don’t think he was crying when the day care owner got him out of the van,” Angel said. “It’s very fortunate that the child was found safely.”

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A woman who answered the phone at the day care centre Friday declined to comment.

In Louisville, a child died during a similar incident in April.

An investigation by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services showed the owner of Lil Kings and Queens Learning Academy picked up 2-year-old Lavontae Swain, her great-nephew, at his home about 9:30 a.m. She forgot to deliver him to the centre and the boy remained in the van for six hours as the temperature topped 80 degrees. She went to an elementary school about 3:45 p.m. to pick up other children, who discovered the boy unresponsive in the backseat. The coroner ruled that the child died from hyperthermia, an extremely elevated body temperature.

The owner, 70-year-old Jacquelin Thomas, was charged with manslaughter.

Angel said a detective in the police department’s Special Victims Unit is investigating whether criminal charges should be filed in the Lexington case.

Beth Fischer, a Cabinet spokeswoman, said the agency also has opened an investigation into the day care centre.