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Director of day care arrested after baby left in van for 5 hours dies

NBC News logo NBC News 5/23/2019 Janelle Griffith
a sign on the side of a road: Ewing's Love and Hope Preschool and Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. © Google Maps Ewing's Love and Hope Preschool and Academy in Jacksonville, Florida.

A baby died Wednesday after she was left in a van for almost five hours outside a Florida day care, authorities said, and the director of the day care has been arrested.

The infant girl was discovered in a van at Ewing's Love & Hope Preschool and Academy in Jacksonville. The director and co-owner of the day care, Darryl Ewing, was arrested Wednesday night on a child neglect charge, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

The day care's license was temporarily suspended Wednesday because it had not notified the state that it was transporting children, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) said in a statement provided to NBC affiliate WTLV in Jacksonville.

The state agency said it had opened a joint child death and child care licensing investigation in coordination with law enforcement.

"Every day, parents entrust child care providers with their most precious gifts," DCF Secretary Chad Poppell said in the statement. "Tragically, today a family has just been notified of the gut-wrenching loss of their precious baby girl."

Authorities said the child, whose identity has not been released, was only a few months old.

The Jacksonville County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to the preschool at 1:08 p.m. to assist the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. Upon arrival, authorities found the child was not breathing and attempted to resuscitate her.

She was taken to the hospital where she was declared dead.

"Preliminary information suggests that the kid was there from about 8 a.m. to about a little after 1 p.m.," Asst. Chief Brian Kee told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. "Almost five hours."

Kee said the exact cause of death is still being investigated, but it is believed to be heat related.

The day care typically transports some children to its facility, he said.

Kee said officers are interviewing "those involved" and will coordinate with the state attorney's office to determine the appropriate charges to file.

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