LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Charges have been dropped in the case where a toddler died after being left in a hot SUV.
Jacquelin Thomas,71, was charged with 2nd-degree manslaughter in the death of her great-nephew, 2-year-old Lavontae Swain, but on Wednesday a Grand Jury returned a "No True Bill" and the charges were dismissed. Thomas' attorney, Keith Kamenish said he sees that as a sign that the jury also saw this as tragic accident.
"They are not sending a message to parents to be unattentive, they are not sending a message to the public that it is okay to leave a child in a hot car, unattended, what they are saying is we understand, under the facts of this case, as found by the police department and the Commonwealth Attorney's office that this was an accident, and it did not rise to the level of a criminal act," said Thomas' Attorney Keith Kamenish.
According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services documents, the Lil’ Kings and Queens Daycare owner, Thomas, picked up 2-year-old Lavontae Swain from his home on April 18. Surveillance video from the home shows that pick up happened at around 9:30 a.m.
Nearly six hours later, officials said two children discovered the boy inside the daycare vehicle. That tragic discovery was made in the carpool line at Gutermuth Elementary.
Documents show Thomas verbally admitted to forgetting the child and once discovered, school officials tried to revive the child but it was too late.
"She has told me over and over again, I keep thinking about it Keith, I keep thinking about it, I just don’t know what went wrong. I don’t know why I didn’t look in the backseat of the car just one last time. You know, she is grasping at straws to determine why on that particular day, she wasn’t 100%," said Kamenish.
Thomas didn't want to speak with us today, but Kamenish says Thomas hopes others learn from her mistake.
"How sorry she is that this young boy's life was lost that she feels responsible, because she was the parental figure in control, who had the supervisory responsibilities that to caution other persons in her position, when you put a child in the backseat of the car, leave something in the front seat that will remind you, no matter what always look in the backseat no matter what," said Kamenish.
At the time of Swain's death, Thomas ran the Lil' Kings and Queens Daycare, which The Cabinet for Health and Family Services suspended their license a few days after the incident for investigation. Kamenish says Thomas does not plan to reopen the daycare at this time because Swain's death has made her reconsider if she still has what it takes to run a daycare.