The family of a 4-year-old left inside of a day care van for nine hours in freezing temperatures is furious.
The incident happened on Jan. 7 when the driver and van monitor from Living Waters Childcare picked up Makyia Artis at 9:15 a.m. in Rochester, New York. Artis informed the van monitor that she was tired, and they allowed her to rest on the van's seats, Baller Alert reports.
When the van arrived at the day care, the other students departed, but Artis remained inside the vehicle for nine hours.
While the child was in the snow-covered van, temperatures dropped to 18 degrees. She continued to lay on the seats and could not see out the windows.
Artis was marked absent from day care and was not discovered by the driver until the end of the day. He saw the little girl curled up on the seats and allegedly bribed her with $3 not to tell her family that she was left behind in the van. The 4-year-old, however, told her mother, who reported the incident to the school.
Owner Sara Dunbar said she was not aware of what happened until she received the phone call from the child's mother.
"We thought this child was absent. I didn't know until I actually received a call from the parent saying her child came home saying she was on the van. So it was a really horrible situation, and I would never downplay it," Dunbar told a local news station, according to Baller Alert.
Artis' grandmother Brenda Powell said her daughter, Artis' mother, noticed something was wrong with the preschooler when she arrived home.
"When she got in the house, her usual routine is to grab her tablet or grab her mom's phone, but she didn't do that," Powell told News 10. "Her mom was laying on the couch under the blanket and Makyia just jumped up right under the blanket with her."
Powell also added that neither the family nor police were called when Artis was found.
"I can't even sit here and say that my granddaughter walked off the bus on her own when they found her," Powell said. "I can't say she wasn't unconscious, I can't say she was limp or really frozen stiff or none of that because we don't know what happened to her in between them finding her and them taking her home over 45 minutes late."
Dunbar said she instantly notified the state, went to Artis' family to apologize for the negligence of her staff members and fired the driver and monitor.
"I wasn't aware, the staff that works inside, no one was aware that Makiya was even present, and pretty much that's what it led to once things blew up, I immediately called and made the report, and that's what we did from that point on," Dunbar said, according to News 10.
Powell wants this disturbing experience to serve as a lesson to other parents.
"Take the time to call the schools and day care yourself. Take this experience that Makyia went through and pick up that phone and call your child's school and day care and just ask how's my child day going today so that you know they are in that classroom," Powell said.
The Rochester Police Department reported that EMS checked out Artis for signs of hypothermia and other symptoms, but she was cleared. The department has an ongoing investigation and will decide if criminal charges will be filed.
Dunbar said the day care, which has been operating for 21 years, changed its check-in procedures to ensure similar incidents don't occur again. Artis' family has since moved the young child to another day care.