The family of an infant who died at a Miami-area day care center says video footage of the incident proves child care workers were not properly trained to perform CPR to save his life.
Security surveillance video from the Lincoln-Martí Child Care center in Homestead, Florida, obtained by Atlanta Black Star, shows staff members giving 9-month-old Tayvon Tomlin rescue breaths after he was found unresponsive in the facility’s infant room.
However, those breaths were not accompanied by chest compressions. One of the workers instead rubbed the baby’s back. All while his 4-year-old brother stood by and watched. Tayvon was pronounced dead less than two hours later at a local hospital.
Tayvon’s parents have filed a lawsuit against the center alleging negligence. The complaint obtained by Atlanta Black Star accuses Lincoln-Martí of abandoning its duty to adequately care for the baby under Florida law.
They also want the workers involved to be criminally charged.
“This case is about holding the daycare accountable, bringing this family justice, and ensuring that our community’s daycares are safe so this never happens to another family again,” family Attorney Michael Levine told Atlanta Black Star in a statement.
The boy’s parents, Keira Whorley and Devonte Tomlin, describe him as an “amazing baby boy” who was smart and active.
Tomlin and Whorley dropped him to the day care facility on July 18, where he was placed in the infant room with seven other babies. The camera in the room was broken, the lawsuit alleges, and only one staff member was supervising the eight infants, a violation of state law.
The worker assigned to the infant room, Rosario Soto Perez, periodically received assistance from another staff member who was “coming in and out to help with feeding.”
Around 12:50 p.m., Perez discovered Tayvon unresponsive with his eyes open. Video footage shows Perez standing and holding the baby while giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. However, CPR protocol calls for first placing a person on a flat, hard surface before providing rescue breaths.
Two other workers rush to Perez’s side. One of the women calls 911. The other takes the baby from Perez at one point and holds him over to the side and rubs his back, the video shows.
Emergency personnel arrived at Lincoln-Martí nine minutes later. Tayvon was airlifted to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2 p.m., court records show.
The complaint against Lincoln-Martí Community Agency Inc., the Miami-based company that owns the Homestead day care and 49 other centers and schools across Florida, accuses the workers and center of several deficiencies, including failing to properly supervise Tayvon and being short-staffed and out of compliance with state law regarding day care operations.
Florida law calls for one child care worker for every four children “from birth through 1 year of age.”
“Child care personnel must be assigned to provide direct supervision to a specific group of children and be with that group of children at all times. Children must never be left without child care personnel supervision inside or outside the facility, in a vehicle, or at a field trip location,” the Florida Department of Children and Families Child Care Facility Handbook says.
“Like any parent, we thought he would be safe and well taken care of. We cannot believe that Lincoln-Martí did not have the right amount of staff to watch over our baby,” Tayvon’s parents said in an email statement.
The suit also accuses the center of neglecting to have a functioning surveillance camera in the infant room and not staffing it with trained workers. Staff did not call 911 or provide timely or appropriate aid to the infant, it alleges.
Tayvon’s parents are suing for damages and funeral expenses.
“We are devastated that he is no longer with us. We think about him all day, every day and we cannot believe he is gone,” Tomlin and Whorley said. “Tayvon was just 9 months old when we went to drop him off at day care.”
Attorneys for Lincoln-Martí admit there were discrepancies in the day care’s operations such as the broken camera and being out of compliance with state policy the day of the incident. Still, they deny workers failed to adequately supervise Tayvon. The center’s operational failures did not result in the infant’s death, they allege in court documents.
The legal team argues that first responders should be responsible for the death either “caused by pre-existing, superseding and/or intervening medical conditions not attributable” to the center.
The company’s attorneys argue that Lincoln-Martí is only responsible for “a relative degree of fault” and Tayvon’s parents are “comparatively negligent and any recovery in favor of” Tomlin and Whorley “must be reduced by the percentage of negligence attributable to them.” However, the defense response did not specify how the parents were negligent or somewhat accountable for the tragedy that happened at the day care.
The family attorneys are still awaiting the medical examiner’s report confirming the infant’s cause of death.