BSO investigates death of boy, 4, in sweltering SUV

A Broward County youngster died Wednesday when employees of a much-faulted day-care center left him unattended in a blazing-hot car.

By Carol Marbin Miller, Diana Moskovitz and Meredith Rutland

cmarbin@MiamiHerald.com

Broward authorities are investigating the death of a 4-year-old boy left in a sweltering SUV for more than two hours by the 20-year-old daughter of a Sunrise day-care operator.

Sources told The Miami Herald Thursday that the boy, Jordan Coleman, and seven other children had been taken to a Tamarac apartment complex by van on Wednesday, allegedly because the owner of 3C’s Day Academy was afraid that child-care-licensing administrators would visit and discover she was caring for more children than her license allowed.

The seven others were brought into a unit in the complex, but Jordan, for reasons that are unclear, was left in the van. The outside temperature was in the 90s at the time.

Day-care owner Cecily Roberts, 42, had been the subject of several troubling inspections by the Broward County Child Care Licensing office, and state child protection investigators had been seeking to shut down her home-based day care.

Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, on vacation this week, confirmed that his agency was investigating the death of a 4-year-old who had been left in a van for about two hours, but he refused to discuss any details, such as whether the van was sealed.

“We’re waiting for the medical examiner to come back with a ruling. That’s why we can’t really say anything,” Lamberti said. “We don’t know if it was neglect or homicide.”

Jordan is the 16th child to die in an unattended hot car in the United States this year, according to KidsAndCars.org, a Kansas City advocacy group. Wednesday’s high in Broward was 91 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Roberts, 42, is the operator of 3C’s Day Academy at 2125 NW 72nd Ter. in Sunrise, which was first licensed in 2008, records show. Since 2010, Roberts has been cited three times for running an over-capacity child-care facility, and twice for leaving infants and toddlers in the care of her daughter, who is below the age required to supervise a child-care center. The center also had been reported to the Department of Children & Families on three occasions, including one verified report that youngsters were not being properly supervised.

The child-care center’s problems appear to have begun around October 2010, when Broward licensing administrators cited Roberts for leaving her then-18-year-old daughter, Camile Gordon, in charge of two children while she was away from the home. In that same inspection, Roberts was cited for failing to notify licensure authorities when a child in her care experienced a medical emergency. Under licensing rules, child-care operators must file an incident report every time 911 is called.

An April 2011 inspection, the result of a complaint from an agency that works with children, concluded once again that 3C’s had “exceeded” the staff-to-child ratio allowed. And again in August of that year, Roberts was cited when inspectors found eight children — the number would have been nine, had the mother of one child not left with her 2-year-old when the inspectors arrived — alone with only one caregiver.

The number of children a center can supervise varies, depending partly on the children’s ages.

A December 2011 inspection found “excessive clothing and other items tossed throughout the master bedroom that would present a serious danger to the children in care in the event of a fire.” The most recent inspection, in June, found Roberts had failed to comply with four

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