My son Bryce passed away August 4th, 2011. He was not ill. He was extremely healthy, and was completely off the growth charts for height and weight. He was a strong, perfect five month old boy.
Bryce was left in the care of Karin Patterson, owner of Karin’s Kids, lic
ense number 47749. Karin began watching Bryce on July 18th, 2011. She was given express instructions on how Bryce’s father and I wanted him cared for, the formula he was to drink, the foods for him to eat, and how we wanted him laid down for naps. Our doctor and the hospital told us to lay him down for naps on his back in a crib with no stuffed animals, bumper pads, or blankets, also known as safe sleeping.
The first week Bryce was with Karin, she mentioned to us how well he was napping. This struck us as odd since he never napped well at home. We assumed he was napping better due to adapting to the daycare schedule or perhaps because he was playing hard with the other kids. We did not know that he was being placed on his stomach for naps, which was causing him to sleep longer.
He developed a diaper rash his first week in the care of Karin, which he had not had since he was one month old and had developed a milk protein allergy. On July 28th, 2011 I picked up Bryce and took him home. I checked his diaper, which was soaked, not from just urine, but he had been playing in the kid pool with other children, set in the water with all of his clothing on (including diaper) and then put in the car seat. When I changed him his bottom was already blistering. He wailed when I tried to wipe him, and had to rinse him in the tub and lather him with Desitin. I went to the store to purchase extra Desitin and supplied it to Karin when I dropped off Bryce the next day. I told her again that I wanted Bryce wiped every time he was changed, powdered well, and to use the Desitin, which was very necessary due to his awful rash.
When I picked Bryce up on July 29th, Karin was in the hall bath off of the front door styling her hair and applying makeup for a date night with her husband. Some of the daycare kids were in the bathroom with her. Bryce was lying on the floor in the front bedroom off of the front door. He had been put down for a nap on the floor on his stomach on a folded up comforter. She opened the door to get him and I was stunned. I reiterated that he was never put on his stomach for naps, only on his back.
My husband and I discussed the whole weekend whether or not to allow Karin to watch Bryce anymore. We doctored his diaper rash, not sure on what we should do.
A few days later on Thursday, August 4th started like any other day. A storm had knocked out our electricity for a few hours the night before, which allowed us a little bit more time with our little guy. I got him up that morning so he could be with me while I was getting ready for work, and he was especially “talkative.” I drove him to Karin’s, dropped him off, kissed him and said, “I love you, Beans.” My day was normal until I clocked out of work and was getting ready to leave, when I received a strange phone call. The call was from Officer Lang, and he wanted to question me regarding an incident that occurred at XXXX Xxxxxxx Rd. I didn’t recognize the address right away, knew nothing about any incident, and told him he must have the wrong phone number. He then asked if I was Christina, Bryce’s mother. I told him I was and he stated, “Oh, God, you don’t know yet”. At that point I became hysterical; he told me to calm down and go to St. Francis Hospital because Bryce had choked at daycare. While a co-worker was driving me, I called Brock, my husband, and told him to go to the hospital because Bryce had choked. My husband knew nothing about the incident either, so we both went not knowing what was happening. When I got there, I knew something was wrong because the EMT crew, police, and hospital workers had lined the halls as I rushed in to find Bryce. Their eyes were full of pity, reluctant to meet mine.
Brock had been there for just a few minutes before me. They had us in a small area while we waited for news. The chaplain and a doctor came into the room. The doctor explained that Bryce had been in cardiac arrest for at least forty five minutes, and they were still trying to resuscitate him. We told the doctor we wanted to see Bryce. We went into the room where they were working on him, and when it was determined that he could not be revived, they stopped. My son’s steel-blue eyes had turned to what looked like shattered ice, all of the brightness had disappeared. I sat sobbing, stroking the top of his head, and feeling all of the warmth vanish. Our baby was gone.
There were so many questions that no one could answer. We had no idea what had happened, I was still under the impression he had choked. Then we received more information on his last day in the days and weeks that followed. We had been having a particularly warm summer, with over a month of consecutive one hundred degree days. Bryce had been out that morning playing with the other children. When they came in from the heat, they ate lunch, and when he was finally laid down for a nap, he was placed on a double folded sleeping bag on his stomach. Almost two hours went by before Karin thought to check on him, although she did admit she was only in and out of the room; at that point he was not breathing. This was about four o’clock, which was about an hour before I was notified of any problem. The paramedics arrived, and then took Bryce.
Other than a few questions asked at the hospital by the detective, we were not notified or questioned any further by the Wichita Police Department. There was a contusion on Bryce’s nose that the detective was concerned about, and I told him that Bryce had no marks on his face when I dropped him off that morning; his face was pristine. The detective asked us while at St. Francis Hospital whether or not we had specific sleeping instructions that had been given to the sitter. We told him that Bryce was a back sleeper and that we had told Karin at our first visit with her that he was only to be placed on his back for sleeping. My husband later made a follow up call to the detective, and the officer stated that although he was not a doctor, by what he had seen at the site of Bryce’s death and the information he had, it looked like his death was caused by positional asphyxiation. The coroner stated the cause of death to be sudden infant death syndrome, but the term itself is too broad. We do not feel that the coroner had all of the information; did not know that Bryce had been in the heat, laid down when exhausted, and while unattended on his stomach asphyxiated.
Brock and I both contacted the Kansas Department of Health to see what would be done with Karin in repercussion for Bryce’s death. Protocol had not been followed, and we both did not understand why Karin still had a license to watch children. I was told to contact the Topeka office; I called and spoke to a woman named Christy Skinner. I told Ms. Skinner about the day that I had found Bryce on his stomach on a folded comforter on the floor while at Karin’s, and she explained while there was nothing that she could do about the fact that he had died while in her care, however, a child cannot be laid on the floor for sleeping. She called me back a few days later, and told me that Karin’s license had been amended, and as of November 30th, 2011 she could no longer watch children 18 months or younger.
After purchasing Karin’s open records from the Kansas Department of Health, Brock and I both learned that the Health Department has amended Karin’s license again, allowing her to watch one infant in order to accommodate one of the parents who already had a child with Karin and now has an infant. She stated that she is now an advocate for SIDS, and will only follow safe sleeping protocol, having written a safe sleep policy and supervision policy because KDHE required her to. This comes at no comfort to my husband or me, and in fact trivializes the death of our son. This was protocol that should have been followed while she was watching Bryce. When Karin filled out and signed The Licensed Day Care Home and Group Day Care provider checklist in December of 2001, she agreed to not lay children less than 18 months of age on a soft surface to nap or rest. She was aware ten years before Bryce’s death of how an infant should be placed for napping.
Receiving the open records also informed us of many violations that Karin has had since becoming licensed in 2001. We read that in early 2003, KDHE was intending to revoke Karin’s license due to felony intent to possess cocaine charge. That charge was later expunged. Later that year, a parent complained that children were being put in the closet and under dark stairs while Karin slept upstairs. The mother went to pick up her children, and they were in a dark room crying. One child had a soaked diaper that was leaking in to his shoes, and they were alone in a room with a hot water heater and furnace. A child care licensure surveyor substantiated children confinement to baby bed and play pen in a dark basement in a laundry room, lack of supervision, children crying while in confinement, provider sleeping during day care, and emotional and mental cruelty. The surveyor requested KDHE take action on this provider due to the hazards, safety and welfare of the children.
Karin was investigated by the Health Department in September of 2003 for a complaint of leaving children in a car seat in a van during a hot August day. She had taken the children to a garage sale, and left the child in the car because he or she was sleeping. A grandparent to the child was at that garage sale, saw the child in the van, and made a complaint. Karin told the surveyor that the mother was ok with her taking the child out and having him in the van, however, the surveyor explained that does not matter, as it is unacceptable due to the heat danger and lack of supervision. It was recommended to the Health Department by the surveyor that enforcement action is taken before the children are more neglected.
A visit made on November 25, 2003 found Karin in her bed when the child care licensure surveyor arrived. The children were napping on blankets on the floor in a bedroom off of the front door, and one child was asleep with his coat on. Karin gave the children crackers and milk while files were being reviewed, and one child smiled and repeated over and over, “we get to eat!”
When Brock and I took Bryce to Karin, we knew nothing about the above history, or any of the other complaints that was found within the open records. The Kansas Department of Health had this information, and allowed a woman who is so careless with the lives of others continue to watch children. My complaint made to Ms. Skinner was not found within the two hundred and seventy one pages we received in the open records; the full explanation of why she lost her ability to watch infants was not included.
Lexie’s Law was signed in 2010, and established a multitude of requirements for supervising children, including monitoring, diapering, and safe sleeping practices. Providers are to receive training in pediatric first aid, CPR, as well as safe sleep practices. Karin was not current in any of these required areas of training at the time of Bryce’s death. Lexie’s Law also implemented an online database to allow parents to view information about complaints on day care providers going up to three years back. The online database, however, does not provide complete information. Searching Karin’s Kids shows that there was a complaint issued on August 5, 2011, however, Bryce’s death was listed as a complaint that needs correction, but does not state that a child died in her care. As recent as July 23, 2012, Karin has had a complaint investigated that required correction, but the database does not state what that complaint was for and what has to be corrected. From her history, a complaint could range from not having a child’s emergency contact information to an infant’s death, but without purchasing her open records a parent would not know exactly why a complaint was made.
From the Kansas Department of Health website, I read that an infant under one year of age should only be placed on their back for sleeping, not tummy or side, in order to reduce the risk of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome or positional asphyxiation. Child care professions are encouraged to educate the parent and all staff on the importance of safe sleeping. Infants are also supposed to be placed on a firm sleeping surface, and not allowed to overheat. Bryce was only placed on his back for sleeping while at home, while Karin had been putting him on his stomach for naps. The result was death by is what is known as unaccustomed tummy sleeping. An infant who is placed on his stomach for naps by a child care provider, when he is used to sleeping only on his back at home, is eighteen more times for likely to die from SIDS. This information was readily available on the KDHE website, where child care providers are encouraged to follow all of the safe sleeping guidelines to protect the infants in their care. None of these safe sleeping guidelines were followed by Karin while Bryce was in her care.
Karin’s negligence and choice to not follow the guidelines for safe sleeping provided by KDHE, which is responsible for the licensing and monitoring of child care facilities, as well as her lack of supervision involuntarily caused Bryce’s death. She should not only be prosecuted for Bryce’s death, but also her license should be removed. She should no longer be allowed to be responsible for any children of any age. I do not want any other parent to have to experience the agony and sorrow my husband and I have had to endure these months since Bryce’s death.
Brock and Christina Mosier