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Baby’s death leads to investigation, law suit

Date Posted: 2010-06-17

The death of a baby at a day care center on Ishigaki Island is now the subject of a government investigation and a lawsuit filed by the child’s parents.

The three-month-old baby died in February while sleeping face down on a bed in a room with 11 other children. The baby’s breathing faltered but the attendant was not present to render care; she was at a nearby fitness center, going through a 40-minute training class. The baby’s parents have filed a complaint against the worker and the care center with the Naha District Public Prosecutors Office Ishigaki Branch, charging neglect. The suit says the woman disregarded her work and abandoned child protection responsibility.

As an investigation began, government officials discovered the day care center was operating without proper licenses and permits, a violation of the Child Welfare Law. The official complaint details the baby boy was left laying face down on the bed. When the worker returned from the fitness center and discovered the limp body, she failed to call an ambulance but instead asked help from another worker and the two drove the unresponsive baby to a hospital.

The hospital autopsy on the baby ruled infectious pneumonia as the cause of death. The baby’s mother says “it is very strange because when I took the baby to the center in the morning, he was alright and nothing wrong.” The investigation is trying to determine how the baby became sick, and what happened in the car as day care workers transported the unresponsive child to the hospital.

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