WASHINGTON - A 3-year-old boy died Tuesday after choking on his food at a daycare inside of the Department of Labor in Washington D.C. The child's family wants to know how their healthy son choked in a classroom with 12 other children and under the supervision of two teachers.
Sterling Moore's mother, an accountant at the Department of Labor, dropped him off at the building's Child Development Center where the toddler had been cared for the past two years while his mother worked just a few floors above the center.
The boy's family said his mother was away from her desk when they called and left a voicemail. By the time she came downstairs, the 3-year-old was inside an ambulance unresponsive after choking on a meatball.
"I'm demanding answers why and how long did it take for them to realize he was suffocating and he wasn't breathing," said Cheryl McCarthy, Moore's grandmother. "Where were the teachers?"
Moore was described as a very loving and energetic boy.
"He loved playing with his brother," said McCarthy. "He would try to help his mom with his brother. He played with his cousins. He was a normal 3-year-old.
"He was just at my niece's baby shower. He ate meatballs there. We even have a video of this. So how big are these meatballs that they are saying or claiming that he choked on? And why are they feeding children and not watching them? Not protecting them to make sure?"
In a statement, the Esther Peterson Child Development Center at the Department of Labor said:
"We are shocked and deeply saddened as we grieve the sudden death of one of our children today. While eating lunch, the child showed difficulty breathing.
"Our trained staff responded immediately to call 911 and perform the Heimlich Maneuver and CPR. The child was transported to Children's Hospital by paramedics and passed away.
"We are devastated by this tragedy, and our hearts and condolences go out to the family during this unimaginable time of grief. We do not know the cause of death at this time, but are fully cooperating with authorities following this tragic loss."
The center would not comment any further as to the current employment status of the staff members who were caring for the toddler, citing the ongoing investigation.