Five children were left briefly without supervision at a home-based day care center in Northeast D.C. at the time when a 23-month old boy drowned in a small inflatable pool. The daycare owner left to tend to some errands and had her sister watch the children. The children were playing in the backyard and the sister went inside the home to retrieve a baby seat when the child drowned. Stokely Andrews was approaching his second birthday and his parents have since filed a civil suit. Regulations require that supervisors remain within “sight and sound” of the children and that they are not to be left outdoors without staff even if only momentarily.
Daycare owner Diane Gallmon claimed that the pool had a covering which was tied down at the time she left the home. Investigators found the cover removed and did not find any things that could be considered “tie-downs” at the scene. Her sister Shirley says when she went inside the home her niece and niece's daughter arrived at the front door which caused a slight delay when greeting them. When the adults saw the boy lying face down in the pool they attempted to provide CPR as they awaited emergency responders.
Detectives investigated the incident and deemed it to be an accident. The detective did not feel there were grounds for criminal charges, which was affirmed by the U.S. Attorney's Office based on the finding of the medical examiner. The State Superintendent of Education which regulates these providers issued a suspension of the day care provider's license. The same agency had recently honored her for completing 25 years as a day care service provider. The daycare was cited for violations of failing to remain physically present, a failure to obtain proper water safety certification, and failing to use a substitute who was qualified for supervision.
Mari and Malcolm Andrews, the parents of the deceased boy, have sued Diane Gallmon and Diane's Child Care for negligence seeking $3 million in damages. The report from investigators which was obtained according to the Freedom of Information Act indicates that her license suspension will be for a period of three years. Mari Andrews explained that she hopes her actions will perhaps prevent another parent from experiencing such as loss in the future.
Diane's Child Care's usage of her sister to provide assistance with supervision was a violation. Shirley Gallmon had not completed the requirements relating to water-safety training, CPR, and had not undergone a criminal background check. Pools are permitted in these care centers but require that children under 36-months-old be supervised one-on-one and that written permission must be obtained prior from the parents of the child if the depth of the pool exceeds one-foot. Additionally, pools must be stored in a manner that is inaccessible to children in the absence of supervision.