LOUISVILLE — State records show a day care that owned a van involved in a fatal crash had received multiple citations, including operating without a license, having too many children on board and going too fast.
The Courier-Journal cited documents obtained through an open-records request in reporting that problems at Heavenly Angels Childcare in Louisville have been well-documented in recent years.
Regulators suspended a license allowing one center owned by Heavenly Angels to transport children, but the owner still used a van to transport children at another center.
The newspaper said records show the van was allowed to carry up to 13 children, plus a driver and monitor.
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The crash last week killed a monitor in the van and injured the driver and 14 children.
Owner Lavonia Lewars has told officials she is voluntarily closing all three day care sites permanently. Lewars has declined to be interviewed.
Louisville police are still investigating the crash and say a blown tire might have contributed to it. One child remains at Kosair Children's Hospital in serious condition, said Brian Rublein, a hospital spokesman.
"We have said for a long time that in the state it's much too easy to get a license to open a child-care program, and it's much too hard to shut one down," said Susan Vessels, executive director for Community Coordinated Child Care, a Louisville-based organization that refers parents to child-care programs.
Kentucky Youth Advocates executive director Terry Brooks said the state can't act quickly enough, because of cumbersome regulations, to close operators that don't comply with the rules.
"I really think that maybe this incident could be a catalyst," Brooks said.
Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokeswoman Gwenda Bond said day cares that violate regulations are typically sanctioned, but they aren't shut down unless they pose an immediate danger to a child.
Records also show that recent episodes at the day care include a child being left alone in a van; a non-injury accident involving a van that hit a light pole; and an employee being cited for speeding and for not having current registration plates, an insurance card or a driver's license in possession.
In addition, an inspector general for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services found that in late 2010 and early 2011, the day care transported more children than allowed at one center.
Records also show cabinet inspectors noted other items during routine visits to the day care's centers, including issues with staffing and training requirements.