WASHINGTON - More than six months after a 1-year-old boy drowned in an inflatable pool at a home-based child care center, authorities have ruled that the day care provider will not face criminal charges and his death has been ruled accidental.
The boy's mother is speaking out about the incident and has a message for other parents who take their kids to child care - ask questions, be vigilant and do your research concerning who is caring for your child.
Mari Andrews said there was no supervision when her son Stokely chased after a ball and fell into an inflatable pool in the backyard of the home last June.
"The sister was in the house on a phone call for at least 20 minutes," said Andrews. "While at that time, she left five of the six children outside in a backyard with a swimming pool full of water. The detective said it was just an accident. They focused on the intent. No one intended for my son to die. Therefore there was no reason to press charges. The U.S. attorney's response was the same thing."
The U.S. Attorney's Office said the case was not sent to them likely because the medical examiner ruled Stokely's death an accident.
The District's Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), which oversees licensing for day care providers, suspended the provider's license effective July 28.
The investigation found the provider failed to remain physically present at the facility and obtain a qualified substitute, and failed to complete required water safety training. The provider also reportedly failed to supervise children at all times.
The incident happened at a Northeast D.C. home in the 300 block of 17th Street. Stokely was two weeks away from celebrating his second birthday.
"Stokely was our miracle baby, our gift from God and he did not deserve to die alone in a pool with someone who we trusted to care for our son," said his mother. "We are very disappointed in the D.C. Police Department, OSSE. We are very disappointed that they felt our son's death was an accident when it was clear negligence."
"Since the OCME (Office of the Chief Medical Examiner) ruled this death as accidental, we opted not to pursue criminal charges," D.C. police said in a statement.
Stokely's family has filed a civil lawsuit against the day care provider. We are told the lawsuit could ultimately include D.C. police.