ORLANDO, Fla. – Hours after the owner of an Orlando day care where a boy died after being left in a van for up to 11 hours begged for forgiveness, the Department of Children and Families announced that the day care would be shut down indefinitely.
Myles Hill, 3, was found in a van outside Little Miracles Academy at 900 Plymouth Ave. around 8:30 p.m. Monday. Orlando police Chief John Mina said it's likely the child had been in the van since 9 a.m. on a day that topped 93 degrees.
DCF announced Wednesday evening that because of Myles' death, the agency decided to issue an emergency suspension order to close both Little Miracles Academy locations.
Audrey Thornton, who owns the academy, spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon alongside her attorney, Robert Nesmith. She said she had just gotten home from work Monday when she received a call that Myles was missing. She said she was immediately distraught.
“I just started screaming and hollering, and crying and crying and crying," Thornton said.
She called Myles' death a tragic accident that's not indicative of the standard of care the academy usually provides.
“Anyone who knows me as a friend, as family, providing for their kids, they know I took care of my kids, I love my kids, I give back to the community and I just want them to trust me and trust in me and that if I ever open back up this will never happen again," Thornton said.
Nesmith shut down any questions related to the criminal investigation into the boy's death, but did confirm that the day care van driver has been fired and DCF is investigating.
Thornton said she hasn't yet spoken to Myles' family, but that she wants them to know she's sorry and she loved Myles, who she described as a smart and kind child.
"I’m sorry for your loss and I don’t want you all to be upset with me and I loved Myles and I took care of Myles since he was a baby and if you all could forgive me," Thornton said through tears. "I’m so sorry just give me a chance to talk to you and explain what happened.”
Myles' family gathered at a vigil outside the day care Tuesday evening during which they chanted "Justice for Myles," and demanded answers for the boy's death.
"We want to know if this if this really how he died we want to make sure that if it was heat that killed him we want to know that. We want to make sure that they didn't do something to my nephew inside that day care and bring him and put him in this van. You get what I'm saying? We want to know," Myles' aunt Chiquerria Banks said Wednesday outside the academy.
Records show that Monday's incident was not the first time Little Miracles Academy has run into trouble. DCF cited the day care July 11 for violating the transportation rule, stating the facility log for children transported did not include the destination time, arrival time, destination location and departure location.
That violation and other noncompliance issues were immediately corrected, DCF said.
Thornton said that regardless of what happens, she will fight to keep both of her facilities open.
“I love all my kids and I’m so sorry and I want everyone to just trust me, it was a mistake," Thornton said.
DCF issued a statement about the emergency suspension, indicating that no child can be present at either facility until the agency says otherwise.
"Our hearts are broken about the senseless loss of Myles and we will continue to support his family. We are conducting a thorough investigation and are assisting law enforcement with their criminal investigation. This facility was previously cited for not keeping proper paperwork, based on the tragic circumstances of this case, both facilities have now been shut down. We will continue to aggressively act to keep kids safe and will hold anyone accountable who doesn’t follow the law," a spokesman said.