3-year-old left in daycare van, worker charged

3-year-old left in daycare van, worker charged (Image 1)

A Kentucky daycare employee was arrested Monday after she left a three-year-old girl alone in the daycare van she was driving and later neglected to tell the little girl's mother what happened.

According to the Hopkinsville police incident report, Erica James, 40, dropped off the van at Raben Tire on Ft. Campbell Boulevard for maintenance work around 3:20 p.m.

The little girl was found crying in the van about 45 minutes later.

James, an employee of House of Angels Daycare on nearby Skyline Drive, was called, returned to the tire shop and picked up the girl before police arrived.

She took the child home, but did not tell her mother why her daughter was so late, according to the report.

“I am sorry for it,” James told Nashville's News 2 Tuesday afternoon, adding. “I am sorry to the parent.”

According to James, a mother of four, she typically doesn't drive the daycare in the afternoons and was filling in for another employee who was sick.

During afternoon runs James says drivers typically have a monitor to help supervise the children but the daycare's director took the monitor off her van before she left to drop off the children.

“I would have never left that child if I was thinking,” James explained, “but, when you have two or three other things you have to do, and be responsible for the kids.”

James was arrested at the daycare center Monday evening.

Police said by leaving the child alone in the van, James subjected the girl to “multiple kinds of harm including kidnapping and possibly serious physical injury or death,” according to the report.

The arresting officer called her actions “inexcusable and careless.”

“James acted with no due regard to the three-year-old's safety or her life,” the report read.

“It could have been very serious,” Hopkinsville police spokesperson Paul Ray said, adding, “As far as I can tell, it is carelessness on the employee's part.”

“I don't mistreat anyone at the daycare,” added James.  “I made a mistake that I am not proud of.”

She told Nashville's News 2 she does not want people to think she is a bad person or that she cannot be trusted to take care of children.

In addition to working at the daycare, James said she also often watches the children of relatives and neighborhood kids at her home.

James was charged with one count of first degree wanton endangerment, a Class D felony, and booked into the Christian County jail on a $5,000 bond.

She is scheduled to appear in court on February 3.

James is also being investigated by Kentucky's children services department.

In Kentucky, a person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, someone wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another.

Hopkinsville is located about 75 miles north of Nashville, just over the Tennessee state line.

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