FOREST PARK, Ga. - A
5-year-old girl was left in a hot van, according to her mother.
Katricia Bebee said her
daughter, Jasmine, fell asleep in the back of a child care operated passenger van and was left behind.
She said her daughter is a pre-K student at Ms. Travis Learning Center in Forest Park.
"No parent should have to go through this," said Bebee.
She told Channel 2's Carl Willis that no one informed her of the incident. She only learned about it when her daughter mentioned it the next day.
"When she woke up she says she was hot and she was sweating," said Bebee. "When she woke up there was nobody around. She said she started crying and she said no one heard her."
It was only a matter of minutes, but officials with the Department of Early Care and Learning said even that can be too long.
The department commissioner, Bobby Cagle, held a news conference days before this alleged incident to put
child care facilities on alert.
"It really goes beyond heat stroke and hyperthermia. In today's world, it's no longer safe to leave a child in a vehicle unattended at all," said Cagle.
Willis called the learning center and spoke to the owner-operator, Travis Ingram.
She admitted to the incident over the phone.
She said the director was about to make a second physical check of the van when she realized Jasmine had been left outside of the facility on Old Dixie Highway.
She said she's now considering installing alarms on the vans that would require the driver to go to the back of the van every time.
So far this year, Georgia has had 12 complaints of kids left in vehicles. Cagle said eight of them have been proven.
"That's why last summer we began imposing maximum fines to
child care providers on the first violation of any transportation regulation," he said.
It's not clear if Ms. Travis Learning Center will receive any penalty.
Bebee said her daughter could have suffered from heat-related illnesses, and was put in danger by being left near a busy highway.
"By the grace of God, she was able to
wake up and get out of that van," said Bebee. "Some kids might not be as lucky."