Crime

Driver who left boy alone in van charged with wanton endangerment

The woman who allegedly left a child alone in a Precious Jewels daycare van for more than nine hours has been charged with second-degree wanton endangement, Lexington police said Thursday.
The woman who allegedly left a child alone in a Precious Jewels daycare van for more than nine hours has been charged with second-degree wanton endangement, Lexington police said Thursday. gkocher1@herald-leader.com

The woman who left a 3-year-old boy alone in a daycare van for more than nine hours earlier this month has been charged with second-degree wanton endangerment, Lexington police said Thursday.

A criminal complaint was served Wednesday on Dorothay Gateskill, 23, of Lexington, police said in a release.

Shortly after midnight on Aug. 4, officers responded to an apartment on Winburn Drive in response to a report of a missing person. The victim’s mother said her 3-year-old son was missing and had not been dropped off by the daycare he attended.

The boy was eventually found at 2 a.m. in a van at Precious Jewels daycare on Augusta Drive.

Police said the boy had been left in the van by Gateskill, the daycare van driver, since about 4:30 the previous afternoon. The child was suffering from dehydration but was otherwise uninjured.

Following interviews with daycare staff and the victim’s family, investigators determined that Gateskill did not check the van at the end of her shift to make sure all the children were dropped off.

The investigation is ongoing in cooperation with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Office of Inspector General. No charges against the victim’s family are being considered, police said.

The daycare center’s state license was later suspended by the Cabinet. It cited the child who was left in the van, as well as several past violations.

The emergency suspension was a result of “failure to protect the health, safety and welfare of children in your care,” according to a notice issued by the division of regulated child care.

Police initially said the 16-year-old sister of the 3-year-old who was left in the van could not reach her mother when the boy was not brought home Wednesday. Detectives later talked to the family and found out the boy’s mother, who can generally not receive calls at work, had gotten her daughter’s messages during a break.

The family is from Africa, they are not yet familiar with the culture in the United States, and they can speak very little English, police said. When the mother found out her son was not home, the mother called a family friend who told her the boy was likely with police and not to worry. The family friend is also new to the United States.

When the woman got off work at 11 p.m., she called police to ask where her son was, according to police. After working through the language barrier, police were able to find the child.

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