Police in Delray Beach, FL, have made a second arrest in conjunction with the August 5 death of Haile Brockington, a 2-year-old who died after being left unattended in a daycare center’s sweltering van, reports her family’s Miami wrongful death lawyers.
Haile, whose family is being represented by Miami child safety and wrongful death law firm Grossman Roth, was strapped in her car seat for hours as the temperature inside the van rose to more than 130 degrees.
Petra Rodriquez-Perez, 45, the director of the daycare facility—Katie’s Kids Learning Center—was taken into custody on November 9.
In August, the driver of the van, Amanda Inman, was arrested on the same charge. Police say Inman signed off on a log in the morning showing that no children were left behind in the van, when Haile was, in fact, still seated in the vehicle. Inman told police that she drove the van later in the day and still didn’t notice Haile.
According to Rodriquez-Perez’s arrest report, she, too, had signed off on the log, even though she did not physically verify that the van was empty.
Florida law requires that drivers transporting children keep a log recording that each child has been picked up and dropped off. The driver must sign the log, and two staff members must do a physical inspection and “visual sweep” of the vehicle to ensure that no children have been left behind.
A lawyer for the school said that Rodriquez-Perez, who had worked at the daycare center for about two years, was fired after Haile’s death. The school itself shut down after a state agency revoked more than $200,000 in funding.
Grossman Roth lawyer Andrew Yaffa, who represents Haile’s parents, said that “the family is extremely pleased the investigation continues to show that the problems are systemic and not limited to the driver. We’ve been saying that from day one.” Katie’s Kids, the child safety lawyer added, “had a system that was doomed to fail.”
Yaffa and his partners at Grossman Roth have filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the Brockington family, naming as defendants the now-shuttered facility; the driver, Inman; and the center’s owners, Kathryn Muhammad, and Barbara Dilthey.
“They had no policies and procedures,” said Yaffa. “They had no training. It’s a tragedy that is senseless, and certainly preventable, had they complied with the bare minimums.”
As horrible as Haile’s death was, it is not the first time a child has been left to die inside a vehicle out of sheer negligence. An important goal of the wrongful death suit, adds Yaffa—and the mission of Miami child safety lawyers such as those at Grossman Roth—is to send a clear message that these preventable deaths should, in fact, be prevented.