WEST JORDAN, Utah – The parents of a toddler killed at a West Jordan daycare center Thursday say their son suffocated to death after an employee sat on the beanbag chair he was underneath.
Leo Sanchez, who would have turned two next week, crawled under a beanbag at West Jordan Child Center and was there when one of the workers sat on it to read stories to the other kids, said his mother Danielle Sanchez.
Police are reviewing surveillance video, which Sanchez said shows Leo climbing under the bag, where he was for five to 15 minutes before employees realized he was underneath.
“How could this happen?” Sanchez said. “He’s a big boy. How did they lose track of him? Too many kids, too much noise, overwhelmed, a bad day … Somebody dropped the ball and now we’re going to have to bury a boy because of that.”
Sgt. Joe Monson of the West Jordan Police Department called Leo’s death a “very tragic, sad accident.”
“No words adequately describe the depth of the sorrow we feel,” the daycare center said in a statement released through an attorney. “And, of course, we do not pretend to understand how devastating this is for the family. We know the family well, we grieve with them, and we pray that God will provide them the comfort and peace they inevitably will need.”
The Department of Health is also investigating circumstances around the toddler’s death and whether the care facility is operating under the proper license, a process which takes 30 days, said department spokesperson Tom Hudachko.
Hudachko said the daycare center has not had any reported, significant infractions over the past five years.
Leo would have turned two on Sept. 17, the day his parents now plan to hold his funeral.
“I dropped him off at daycare not realizing I would never be able to hold him again,” Sanchez said, “or kiss him or have my Leo back.”
Leo’s father, Dan Sanchez, said something needs to change at the daycare and that other parents and caregivers should be aware that something like this could happen.
“Be aware,” he said. “Have knowledge and some accountability.”
Neighbors of the facility say they have noticed problems, including incidents of children not being properly supervised, in the past.
At least two parents of other children at the daycare say they have had concerns and are now trying to find alternative options for childcare.