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‘We Wouldn’t Have Known’: 4-Year-Old New York Girl Tells Family She Was Left In a Van for Nine Hours In Freezing Temp, Daycare Owner Fires Employees Responsible

A Rochester, New York, family is planning legal action after finding out their young child was left in a day care van for nine hours in freezing weather.

The relatives of 4-year-old Makyia Artis are infuriated and exploring seeking financial retribution after learning that she ended up spending a full school day in the van, with temperatures reaching as low as 18 degrees after daycare staff failed to check her in after she was picked up and didn’t notice her absence.

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Artis, who is all right after the ordeal, boarded the Living Waters Child Care bus van at 9:15 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 7, and reportedly told the monitor on the van that she was tired and was allowed to lie across the seat during the ride to the child care center. The Rochester-based day care’s employees failed to wake Artis once the bus arrived and didn’t check to make sure all students had exited.

Makyia wasn’t discovered until the end of the day when the driver returned to the van. They then drove her home, however, Makyia’s family allegedly didn’t learn of the incident until she told them the story herself after she arrived home almost an hour late and her mother noticed a change in her after-school routine.

“When she got in the house her usual routine is to grab her tablet or grab her mom’s phone but she didn’t do that,” Makyia’s grandmother Brenda Powell told WHEC. “Her mom was laying on the couch under the blanket and Makyia just jumped up right under the blanket with her.”

“Had my granddaughter not told my daughter what happened, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” Powell expressed to 13WHAM. “We wouldn’t have known. They wouldn’t have told us anything about it.”

Makyia told her mother that the unidentified driver also gave her $3 when they took her home in an alleged attempt to bribe the child not to say anything about being left behind. “The driver supposedly said don’t tell mommy that you were left on the bus all day,” Powell said. 

Sara Dunbar, the owner of Living Waters Child Care, confirmed that Artis was left in the van and that both employees involved were fired immediately.

“We thought this child was absent — I didn’t know until I actually received a call from the parent saying her child came home saying she was on the van,” Dunbar told reporters. “So it was a really horrible situation and I would never downplay it.”

Dunbar added that she had no knowledge of the incident until she received a call from Makyia’s mother. “I wasn’t aware, the staff that works inside, no one was aware that Makyia was even present and pretty much that’s what it led to once things blew up I immediately called and made the report and that’s what we did from that point on,” she explained.

The business owner also maintains that the $3 given to the child was not a bribe. “I guess in the process of transporting her home, the driver, because he does have a compassionate heart he stopped to get her something to eat and he took her home,” she said. “He did give her $3 but it wasn’t a bribery.”

Artis’ family has stated that they plan to sue the daycare center and the Rochester Police Department is reportedly “working to determine if criminal charges can be filed in the case.”

Powell hopes that her granddaughter’s story serves as a reminder that parents thoroughly question their children about the people who are entrusted to care for them.

“Take the time to call the schools and daycare yourself,” she encouraged. “Take this experience that Makyia went through and pick up that phone and call your child’s school and day care and just ask how’s my child day going today so that you know they are in that classroom.”

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