Daycare left 5-year-old locked in vehicle alone for over an hour, Kamloops mother says


Helen Coombs is grateful to have her five-year-old son safe after saying he was left behind for more than an hour in a van at a Kamloops daycare centre.

Coombs said her son, Tor, was picked up from Aberdeen Primary School on Friday May 6, 2022 and taken to the Maple Tree Early Learning and Development Centre. School ends at 2:40 p.m. and the center is less than five kilometers away.

At around 4:15 p.m., Coombs says her husband picked up their four-year-old son and daughter, Elsa, from Maple Tree, and that’s when staff realized they were missing him. a kid. Coombs says her husband found their son sweating and crying in the vehicle and the family is relieved it wasn’t worse.

“It’s a pretty short period of time to lose a child,” Coombs said, during an interview that aired on Tuesday on Kamloops dawn.

That day, Environment Canada recorded the temperature in Kamloops as 17°C. According to Coombs, had it been warmer, the consequences could have been disastrous.

The incident prompted an investigation by the local health authority which concluded that their concerns were well founded. Interior Health’s current online records show Maple Tree has more substantiated complaints than any other daycare in Kamloops.

A substantiated complaint is when a complaint is investigated and the supplier is found to be failing to meet regulatory standards.

“We regret”

Maple Tree says it reported the May 6 incident to Interior Health Licensing and Regulation, which investigated the incident. Interior Health told CBC that due to privacy concerns, it cannot confirm who reported the incident.

In an email statement about the incident, the Maple Tree Early Learning and Development Center said it happened because employees failed to follow the transportation plan and program policies and procedures. ‘establishment. The company called the incident “unfortunate”.

The center said it created a care plan in light of the May 6 incident to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

The statement does not specify what these plans, policies and procedures are.

“We continue to work closely with our team to ensure that our policies and procedures will be followed. We regret that this incident occurred at our facility,” the center’s statement concluded.

Helen Coombs says her son Tor and daughter Elsa will not be returning to Maple Tree Early Learning and Development Center. (Submitted by Helen Coombs)

Coombs, after speaking to her husband and Tor, says her son fell asleep on the ride and woke up when the kids got out of the van. He tried to follow them, but told his parents his bag got stuck in the van and the door closed before he could get out.

She says the van driver took a count, but another vehicle had stopped at the same time with a child in it, and she says that’s probably why no one noticed that her son had not left the vehicle.

“So he stayed in the van because he couldn’t open the sliding door. It’s too heavy for him,” Coombs said.

Not the first complaint

The Interior Health reports website shows that the Maple Tree Early Learning and Development Centre, whose main operator is listed on this website as Brian Fleming, had five well-founded complaints since October 2020.

The details of these complaints show that on more than one occasion, the daycare did not have adequate adult supervision on site.

There were also two instances where the daycare did not pick up a child from school.

CBC has contacted Maple Tree for further comment on the actions taken by the company after the other four well-founded complaints. CBC also requested details of the care plan created after May 6. Maple Tree did not respond to this additional request.

LISTEN | Kamloops mother shares experience of her son being left in a van

Sunrise Kamloops7:16Kamloops mom tells story of daycare leaving son in vehicle

A Kamloops mom has a warning for parents after her 5-year-old child was left behind in a vehicle by her daycare.

Safety tips

Coombs says the family gave the center suggestions on how to make sure it didn’t happen again and they took them seriously.

These included counting children after they exit the vehicles and not once they are inside the building. Another suggestion was to put all backpacks and bags in the back of the van, so if one is left behind, that indicates a child has been left behind as well.

Coombs said staff are also considering changing the sliding door mechanism on their vehicle so children can open it themselves.

Coombs says Tor seems unharmed, but the family won’t send him or his sister to Maple Tree again.

She also reminds parents to review inspection reports when choosing a daycare and know the details of pick-up and drop-off protocols to ensure their children will be safe.

Coombs also suggests parents teach their children what to do if they get stuck in a vehicle, such as removing heavy clothing, sounding the horn and trying all the doors.