Two-Year-Old Dies In Hot Daycare Van

POSTED: 4:50 p.m. EDT June 11, 2003

UPDATED: 8:32 p.m. EDT June 11, 2003


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- At 93 degrees in the blazing sun, it's a matter of minutes before a car can turn into an oven. Wednesday, a 2-year-old boy died when he was forgotten inside a hot daycare van in Pine Hills.


Little Dominique Royals was just a few weeks from his third birthday. This morning, the daycare van picked up several children and brought them to a daycare on Tam Drive in Pine Hills


However, the driver forgot about Dominique for more than two hours. When rescue crews arrived, there was no hope of saving him.


Cops say they only were caring for six kids in the daycare today. However, the family that runs the daycare also had their own children in the house. The state allows the daycare to handle 10 kids.


The Rutherfords either wouldn't answer our questions or shut the door before we could ask one. Investigators say 22-year-old Keynethia Rutherford left the house around ten this morning. She was picking up five kids in the daycare van, including three-year-old Dominique Royals.


Rutherford arrived back at the house around 11am.

"She took three or four children out. At this point, she is saying she didn't realize the child was in the van, or forgot," explains Sgt. John Allen, Orange County Sheriff's Office.


The temperature reached a scorching 93 degrees while the little boy was stuck in the car. Finally, around 1:30, two and half hours after the air conditioning was turned off and the door shut on the van, someone inside made the daycare made horrible realization.

They rushed the little boy inside and, strangely, started loading the other kids into the very same van.


"Somebody took the children out of the way and took them to another location," explains Sgt. Allen.


We checked with the state about this daycare facility. It is licensed. They have one complaint against them in October 2002 for not having enough staff for the number of kids they had. According to state records, the issue was resolved, but we're not sure how it was resolved.


At this point in the investigation no charges have been filed, although homicide investigators were on the scene.