1-year-old dies after left in day care van, driver arrested: Police

The incident occurred in Omaha, Nebraska, amid oppressive heat.

August 23, 2023, 3:52 PM

The driver of a day care van was arrested after a 1-year-old girl who was left in the vehicle for several hours amid sweltering temperatures died, Nebraska police said.

Police responded to a day care center Monday afternoon "for an unresponsive child who was left in a van," the Omaha Police Department said in a statement.

Authorities believe the child was left in the van for approximately five hours, an Omaha Police spokesperson told ABC News.

The 1-year-old was transported to Nebraska Medical Center but was declared dead at the hospital, police said. The official autopsy results are pending, the police spokesperson said.

The child was identified by her family on Tuesday as Ra'Miyah Worthington. Her distraught mother told Ra'Miyah she loved her at a rally outside the day care center, Kidz Of The Future Child Development Center II, as family members demanded justice for the toddler.

"My baby did not come home. Her siblings did. She didn't. How did y'all forget her?" the child's mother, Sina Johnson, said at the rally. "Y'all picked all of 'em up, took 'em off the van. How did y'all forget my baby?"

Family speaks out over the death of a 1-year-old girl who was found unresponsive in a day care van, Aug. 23, 2023.

The child's temperature was approximately 109 degrees amid the response, according to the affidavit.

"My baby suffered, she suffered," Johnson said at the rally.

Hot, humid conditions made it feel as if it was triple-digit temperatures in Omaha on Monday. The National Weather Service in Omaha warned on Monday that the region is facing "dangerous record-breaking heat," as an excessive heat warning remains in effect through Thursday.

PHOTO: This photo released by the Omaha Police Department shows Ryan Williams, 63, of Omaha, Neb. Williams was charged Aug. 22, 2023, with a felony count of child neglect resulting in the death of 1-year-old Ra'Miyah Worthington.
This booking photo released by the Omaha Police Department shows Ryan Williams.
Omaha Police Department via AP

The van's driver, 62-year-old Ryan Williams, was arrested for child abuse by neglect resulting in death, police said. His bond was set at $50,000 during a court appearance Wednesday. Attorney information wasn't immediately available.

Williams allegedly told police he began unloading children from the van but "was distracted by a young boy who was not wanting to get out of the van and go inside," according to the affidavit. He allegedly told police he normally does "sweeps" of the van but did not do one on Monday, according to the affidavit.

The day care has been temporarily shut down "until further investigations can take place," according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

"The protection and well-being of children is of the highest priority by the Department of Health and Human Services and we are working with law enforcement as they investigate this tragic death," the agency said in a statement to ABC News.

ABC News did not receive a response from the day care to a message seeking comment.

The investigation is ongoing, police said.