Angels on Earth, a daycare for children with special medical needs, is under fire after a family claims they left a special needs Black boy unsupervised and he choked to death on a latex glove last November in Melbourne, Florida.
On Nov. 30, a case report from Brevard County Sheriff’s office said that they responded to a call from the daycare for an injured child. Fire crews said they found a glove in his mouth as they loaded the child into an ambulance, according to Orlando News 6.
Kiyana Durham, the mother of 13-year-old Tarionn “Tari” Hanner, filed a wrongful death negligence lawsuit against Angels on Earth in January. The mother is seeking $50,000 in damages and answers about the death of her son, Florida Today newspaper reports.
The family and their attorney Douglas McCarron gathered outside of the daycare for a press conference on Thursday. It was reported that the daycare was closed on Thursday and the website was not functioning.
“Healing hasn’t even begun. It’s been a horror story,” said Durham.
McCarron said that they are working to determine who was in that room when Tari died, the person supervising the shift, and the events that led to his death. He also stated that there is video surveillance from inside the care center, but they have not seen the footage.
“They can’t do the basic fundamentals of care. And it’s just an outrageous case. We want answers. The family wants answers,” McCarron told the assembled media.
The family stated that Tari was born prematurely and had a lot of medical conditions that required continuous supervision, according to WFTV 9 News.
“I’m so hurt. I’ve been depressed. I didn’t even know what depression was until this happened,” Tari’s father, Tarence Hanner Sr., told the media.
“It’s awful. It’s something I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life,” he said.
Florida Today left messages with an Angels on Earth receptionist and with the company’s Miami defense attorneys to seek comment.
“While our hearts go out to the grieving family, we are unable to comment on the pending litigation,” defense attorney Michael Morales said in an email.
Durham said that she has struggled to remain sane following the loss of her son.
“What helps me the most is just thinking about the good times. His smile. His unconditional love that he displayed to each and every person that he came in contact with,” Durham said.
Angels on Earth daycare has been licensed with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration as a prescribed pediatric extended care center since October 2020. They provide continual care for children with medically complex conditions in nonresidential settings. The company has facilities in Orlando, Lakeland, and Haines City.
Last week, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced that Carlos Cabrera, administrator for Angels on Earth, was arrested and charged with Medicaid provider fraud.
According to the arrest warrant and a press release on March 22, Cabrera is accused of submitting fraudulent claims for services that should’ve been provided to children with medically complex conditions. Authorities set the amount of the fraud as $422,353, stolen from July 2021 to December 2021.
“This defendant used vulnerable children and their families for his own financial gain by overbilling and stealing from a taxpayer-funded program,” Moody said in the press release.
Cabrera entered a not-guilty plea on Tuesday in Orange County Circuit Court.
Angels on Earth announced that it was closing all locations before the arrest of Cabrera, according to reports.
“There are rumors circulating that have nothing to do with our unfortunate reality,” a statement reads. “We are hoping to reopen as soon as possible.”
It is reported that the medical examiner’s office is still working on Tari’s autopsy.