JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a 15-month-old who died one day after he was found unresponsive at a Westside day care center has up a fund to open a safe, affordable day care center.
While Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department confirmed there was a transport about 11:30 a.m. Thursday from Tip Top 24 Hour Learning Center on Blanding Boulevard, just south of San Juan Avenue, to Wolfson Children's Hospital, and a police report said doctors at Wolfson Children's Hospital had to resuscitate the boy several times and did not expect the child to survive.
Information on what happened after that comes from the family. Malik's mother, Amber Lee, said she was told there nothing found in her son's throat, but there was trachea damage to indicate he had choked on something.
"I just want to know what happened to my baby," Amber Lee, Malik's mother, told News4Jax on Friday. "I just want a little bit of closure because we just sat up in the hospital for hours and I held my baby’s hand while his heart stopped beating."
Lee told News4Jax on Friday that her son, Malik, had died. She and Malik's father, Earl Baker, said they are coping with an unthinkable loss.
"For us to give them permission to take our kid off life support, you know, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my whole life," Lee said. "We held his hand until heart stopped. And I sung his favorite lullaby and he was gone."
Lee said a day care worker told her she stepped out of the room for a minute and when she came back, the toddler was unresponsive.
"You leave your kids at day care, thinking that they are going to be OK," Lee said. "She shouldn't have stepped out of the room for any amount of time."
Lee and Baker said they want justice for Malik and answers from the people who work at the day care center.
"I don't know how I'm going to tell my kids," Lee said.
Police are investigating this a case of aggravated child abuse and the Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating.
"We are concerned ... and are trying to learn more about what happened," DCF spokesman John Harrell said.
State inspection reports show the center has been open since 2016 and is licensed with a capacity of 45 children. In recent inspections, the Department of Children and Families found several Class 2 violations, including insufficient staff, an unsafe physical environment and no credentialed director. DCF previously found 10 Class 3 violations, which involve paperwork and record-keeping.
When News4Jax first approached the day care on Thursday, a man who said he worked there denied any incident happening earlier that morning.
After getting confirmation from JFRD, News4Jax approached workers again. One woman shut the door before any questions could be asked and the man said he did not want to be interviewed.
On Friday, the gates of the learning center were closed and no one answered the door. Phone calls to the center were also not returned.
Anyone wanting to donate to the family's attempt to set up a safe day care facility can do so at this Dimes for Day Care GoFundMe account.