Daycare owner charged in toddler's heat death

Owners arrest does not mean daycare will remain closed
Jacquelin Thomas is charged in the death of Lavonte Swain, who was found dead in an SUV on April 18. (Source: LMDC)
Jacquelin Thomas is charged in the death of Lavonte Swain, who was found dead in an SUV on April 18. (Source: LMDC)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A daycare owner has been charged in the death of a toddler who was left in an SUV for hours.

Jacquelin Thomas, 70, was arrested late Tuesday night, charged with second degree manslaughter.

Lavontae Swain, 2, was found dead in the SUV on April 18 outside Gutermuth Elementary School. The Jefferson County Coroner's Office said the boy died of hyperthermia.

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Lavontae was in the care of Lil Kings and Queens Learning Academy at the time of his death. Investigators discovered he had been left in the vehicle for four hours. Thomas told police she forgot Lavontae, who her attorney says was her great nephew, in the SUV she'd been driving.

Two days after Lavontae's death, Lil Kings and Queens Learning Academy's license was suspended by state officials. As of Tuesday, the center had not filed an appeal to regain their license, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Thomas' attorney, Keith Kamenish told a judge this was a tragedy.

Kamenish said he's known Thomas for 25 years. She has a large family in town, he said.

During the arraignment, Kamenish said that they've cooperated with police, providing witnesses, files and surveillance video from the daycare.

The facility has been cited for several violations in the past five years, including not properly documenting transportation records.

Bond for Thomas was set at $100,000. She can be released after posting 10%.

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