State report shows day care van was overloaded day of deadly crash


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on August 8, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 8 at 11:18 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- We are learning shocking and disturbing details after the state releases its investigation of the deadly day care van crash from June.

That's when a Heavenly Angels Childcare Center van crossed Algonquin Parkway and slammed into tree, killing an employee and seriously injuring several children.

This report cites glaring problems that show the chaos inside the bus when that accident happened.

Inspectors investigated 14 key areas of what went wrong when the Heavenly Angels day care van went careening down Algonquin Parkway and slammed into a tree. The accident killed the van monitor, injured the driver and 14 children on board. Ashley Brown's youngest daughter was the most seriously injured. We spoke to her shortly after the accident.

"The 8-month-old, she had emergency eye surgery. She has a broken nose. She was on a ventilator for about nine days," says Ashley Brown.

Brown says it was amazing the children survived even more shocking now after the state releases its scathing report on what went wrong. On June 12, state inspectors say the day care clearly violated state regulations by transporting too many children in the van. The van was only authorized to carry 15 children but on that day 16 were on board. How they are restrained is even more shocking. An officer on the scene stated that it was impossible to determine who was seated in each row of the van and even observed as many as four children sharing one lap belt. Most of the kids, aged 8-months to 8-years-old were not properly restrained. Two children were thrown from the van.

Then there's the problem with just identifying the children. Inspectors found that there was no identifying information for any of the 14 children, nothing as basic as a list for first and last names or even emergency contacts. In addition, when an officer went with a staff memeber to the center on Dixie Highway, they still could not find the proper information on any of the children's enrollment forms. The report even finds that the daycare didn’t even notify parents the day of the crash.

WHAS11 learned in June that Heavenly Angels had previous violations, a child left unattended in a hot van for hours, staff members found speeding, driver's who didn’t have licenses and evidence before that vans were overloaded. News that then shocked Brown.

"I'm livid. Any parent would be. Because I'm trusting you with my children and you all are doing this," Brown said.  

Police have not yet determined how the van crashed. LMPD continues to investigate.

The day care centers are now closed. The owner has pleaded not guilty to improperly taking money from the state's childcare assistance program.