Dead Tot's Family Protests Outside Day Care

Relatives of a boy found dead after being left in a hot van all day say a manslaughter charge isn't enough

By Christina Hernandez and Janie Campbell
|  Monday, Aug 8, 2011  |  Updated 8:02 PM EDT
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The family of a 2-year-old boy who died after being left in day care center's hot van is upset the driver has been released from jail.

The family of a 2-year-old boy who died after being left in day care center's hot van is upset the driver has been released from jail.

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Driver Charged in Homestead Tot's Van Death

Police say 23-year old Lelier Perez admitted his role in the death of a child left in a day care's hot van. The woman who helped raise Perez says he agonizes over the pain the boy's family now endures.

Family Talks About Dead Toddler

A Homestead family is still trying to figure out what happened to a 22-month-old boy who died at a day car center.
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Family and friends of a 22-month-old boy found dead inside a day care van gathered outside the shuttered business on Monday to demand more severe charges against the van's driver.

Lelier Perez Hernandez, 23, was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child and tampering with physical evidence of a deceased person. He was released on bond Saturday.

"He is not supposed to be on the streets," grandmother Atila Bryant said. "I want justice for my grandbaby because if you felt bad, you would've handled it better."

Several hours after driving little Dominicue Andrews and 15 other children to the day care on July 12, according to an arrest report, Hernandez realized Andrews wasn't in his classroom and went to check the van. Police say Hernandez found the boy still strapped into his seat and unresponsive and not moving.

Rather than tell anyone about Andrews' condition, Hernandez took Andrews out of the van, placed him on a concrete slab, and left him to join other staff and teachers in the search for Andrews, the report said.

Another staff member found Andrews a short time later, but the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

"You could have given him CPR, something to bring him back," said the boy's cousin, Darrell Collins. "Not pick him up and throw him behind a rock like he's some kind of animal."

Andrews' family has filed a lawsuit against the day care center, and demanded at Monday's protest that it be closed forever.

They also said they will seek out a criminal lawyer this week.

"I don't know what kind of charge he needs, but it's got to be something more than manslaughter," said his grandmother.

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