A Texas toddler died after being locked in a sweltering day care bus for four hours after a field trip.
Three-year-old Raymond Pryer was accidentally left behind on the Discovery Me Academy bus on July 19 after his class traveled to Houston’s Doss Park, about 2 miles way. His absence went unnoticed for almost four hours.
Staff didn’t realize the boy was missing until the boy’s father showed up around 7 p.m. They found him in the locked bus, unresponsive.
Pryer was pronounced dead at the scene. The temperature in the bus was 113 degrees even at that hour.
“Every day, I see the bus come in and, diligently, the drivers drop the kids off and count them. You know, when they’re loading them, they’re counting them on and off the bus,” eyewitness Kenneth Brooks told Click2Houston. “On this particularly day, I saw them get off the bus and she was just ushering them off the bus.”
“The next thing I know, a few hours later the dad and the owner came out and was crying,” Brooks told ABC News. “When EMS had him, he was just limp, you know. Right there, I knew the kid was gone. It’s a sad day.”
Day care records show that Pryer was accounted for when he arrived back at the day care center. Authorities questioned the bus driver and a chaperone to try to determine how the toddler could have been counted and still remained on the bus.
It is possible Pryer fell asleep on the bus after the field trip to the park.
“A father arriving here to pick up his beloved child only to find out that they’re looking around for him,” Constable Alan Rosen commented to Click2Houston. “I just can’t. I just can’t imagine.”
Day Care Closed
Discovery Me Academy, located at 8021 Antoine Drive in Houston, shut down after Pryer’s body was discovered.
Employees and parents showed up Friday morning only to see that the door was locked and a sign posted, “Closed Until Further Notice.” Workers and parents said no notice had been sent out by day care center staff.
“I can’t imagine anyone not trying to get the kids off the bus. I couldn’t imagine. That it’s just so sad,” she said.
Grand Jury Will Consider Charges
The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) released a statement Friday, July 20, saying it “will investigate whether or not neglect occurred in this case, and we will also investigate the day care operation for any deficiencies in state standards,” Click2Houston reported.
“Findings from our investigation will be turned over to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), the state agency that licenses and regulates day care in Texas.”
According to Click2Houston, the day care center has a history of violations, with seven listed deficiencies—two of which were deemed “high risk” in a 2015 report.
The center had just purchased two new buses. Neither had yet been fitted with child safety alarms that prompt the driver to check the bus for leftover children before leaving and locking it.
DFPS requires these alarms to be fitted to all vehicles purchased later than 2013.
Houston police cannot list a cause of death until the autopsy is complete. They did say that a grand jury would decide whether or not to bring charges against the day care center.