Toddler left behind: Riviera Beach daycare now under scrutiny

Police say 2-year-old was locked inside for hours

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. -- The Department of Children and Families and the Palm Beach County Health Department are now investigating Life Span of Palm Beach County, Inc after a 2-year-old girl was locked in the facility Thursday night.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the center describes the incident as, "an unfortunate mishap," said Bruce Lewis.  Lewis says its director, Terri Mitchell, is working with investigators and being, "proactive" in making sure an incident like this doesn't happen again. 

Sa'Myra Brown was left in the Life Span of Palm Beach County Day Care after employees left for the day and locked the facility, according to Riviera Beach police.

Police say the toddler was apparently left behind for hours -- alone. Tavaris Brown, Sa'Myra's father, said he arrived at the center on North Congress Avenue around 5:30 p.m. to pick Sa'Myra up, but the gates were locked.

After attempting to contact the staff with no response, Brown called police and reported Sa'myra missing.

Officers arrived, broke through the gate and began looking through windows for signs of the young girl. One of the officers spotted the toddler and broke a window to get inside. Her family said the girl had been alone, in the dark, for hours. 

Sa'myra was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center as a precaution. She was unharmed and has been reunited with her family.

"She could have been laying unconscious for all I have known," said Ashley Worthy, the girl's mother.

Riviera Beach Police have launched an investigation to find out exactly how this incident occurred.

Sa'Myra's grandmother Bobbie Mack said she originally feared her granddaughter had been kidnapped.

"I thought she had wandered off in the street because things do happen when you got multiple children and we didn't know what to think. I was just frantic," said Mack.

A Life Span staff member, who chose to remain anonymous, said the daycare is assessing the situation.

Sa'myra's family members said they will pull the child from the facility's care and find a more "suitable" place for her to go.  The family has also hired an attorney.

The daycare was open and continued normal operations Friday morning.  The daycare will remain open through the course of the investigation.   According to the center's spokesperson, the director is modifying measures and procedures to ensure child safety.

Additional reporting by Mike Trim and Katie LaGrone WPTV

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