DCF shuts down Clermont home day care after 9-month-old boy's death

Boy brought to urgent care from Dodd Family Daycare

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A 9-month-old boy who was unresponsive when he was brought into a clinic from a Clermont day care Tuesday later died, officials with the Lake County Sheriff's Office said. 

Authorities said the infant, later identified as Zachary Jackson, was at a day care inside a home on Summerset Court. Deputies said the home was Dodd Family Daycare and the owners are Joseph and Debbie Dodd.

An employee brought the baby into the Clermont Centra Care on State Road 50 at 4:22 p.m., according to the Sheriff's Office. Workers at the clinic said the boy was unresponsive. 

"When the person came there with the baby, the first thing medical personnel did was start CPR right away," Sgt. Fred Jones with the Lake County Sheriff's Office said.

Jones said the baby was blue when deputies arrived. Zachary was taken to South Lake Hospital, then flown to Arnold Palmer Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, officials said. 

Jones said Zachary's death is under investigation and there were no signs of abuse or bruises. He adds investigators are waiting on hospital and autopsy reports to figure out how Zachary died.

"It's sad that a parent has to go through this and what we want to do is find some answers for the parents," Jones said.

Neighbor Leah Garcia said she has seen about five kids at the day care home. She said the owner seems attentive around the children. She said she hopes investigators bring closure to the infant's family.

"I feel for the parents. Hopefully they figure out what happened soon," Garcia said.

According to Florida Department of Children and Families child care provider search site, the registered family day care home can take care of up to 10 children. The Dodd Family Daycare website said Debbie Dodd has a nursing background and is Florida licensed and certified.

Florida law requires that anyone who provides child care in their home for more than one unrelated family must be either registered or licensed through DCF. However, registered family day care homes are not inspected by DCF.

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said the department immediately issued an order ceasing operations at Dodd Family Daycare.

"The department has opened a child death investigation and child care licensing staff are conducting a thorough review," Carroll said. "We will continue to work closely with law enforcement to hold those responsible fully accountable."

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