April 16, 2018 3:13 pm
Updated: April 16, 2018 6:44 pm

Calgary dayhome operator admits to death of toddler left in car seat in closet for hours

WATCH: A Calgary court heard shocking new details about the 2015 death of a toddler after the dayhome operator charged in her death pleaded guilty. Nancy Hixt reports.

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There’s been a last-minute guilty plea from a Calgary dayhome operator charged in the death of a toddler in her care.

The trial for Elmarie Simons was supposed to begin Monday. Simons was accused of criminal negligence causing death in November 2015.

Instead, she admitted responsibility for the death of Ceira Lynn McGrath.

READ MORE: Charges laid against woman in death of child at Calgary dayhome


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According to an agreed statement of facts read in court, Simons put Ceira in a car seat and left her in a closet for more than five hours — leaving the home completely to go to Walmart and McDonald’s.

Ceira died from asphyxiation caused by the car seat strap.

Monday was the first time Ceira’s parents heard the disturbing details.

“I don’t even have words for it; it’s such a horrific, awful thing that’s been done,” Ryan McGrath said.

“It’s absolutely horrific. It’s disgusting.”

“I don’t know who could do this–especially a person we trusted and that others trusted–and that she came so highly recommended,” he said.

Court heard the child seat was too small for Ceira.

“Given Ceira’s size, it would be impossible for Simons to properly buckle Ceira into the car seat,” reads the agreed statement of facts.

Simons admitted she buckled the little girl in with the chest strap but not the crotch straps.

“There was nothing preventing Ceira from sliding down the car seat.”

Simons also admitted she lied to authorities about the circumstances surrounding Ceira’s death.

Simons babysat Ciera and her twin brother at her unlicensed Silverado dayhome, Elmy’s Daycare.

“At one point I thought maybe [McGrath’s son] Colby was witness to it, so if there’s any silver lining, it’s that he wasn’t also there,” McGrath said. “I still have questions about where my son was for five hours…where our son was for five hours.”

Court heard Simons’ lies were proof she would have known she took a risk in how she treated Ceira on the day the child died.

“Simons showed wanton or reckless disregard for her duty to Ceira when she used the car seat for a purpose for which it was not designed…and when she left Ceira in the car seat unattended in the closet,” court heard from the agreed statement of facts.

“Simons’ breach of her duty caused Ceira’s death.”

Simons remains out on bail.

Ceira’s father called Simons a “pathological liar” and a “monster.”

A sentencing hearing is being scheduled for next week, when at least two victim impact statements are expected to be read.

Her parents said the loss has been overwhelming to deal with.

“Her brother misses her so much; we miss her so much,” McGrath said. “She was so happy, so healthy. Every birthday…Every Christmas…Everything her twin brother does is a reminder of her not being there and when he has nobody to play with, it’s sad.”

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