Bucks Co. daycare owner charged in child death

August 7, 2009 2:38:18 PM PDT
The owner of a Bucks County daycare has been charged in the death of a small child in her care.Rimma Shvartsman turned herself into police Friday morning. She is charged with involuntary manslaughter and endagering the welfare of a child in the death of Daniel Slutsky, 2.

The manslaughter charge carries a maximum of seven years in prison.

"It's a horrible tragedy for everyone involved," said Bucks County District Attorney Michelle Henry.

At a news conference Friday, Henry said Shvartsman forgot about the child. But, the D.A. said, that's not good enough, especially for a child care professional.

"She took on a duty of care," District Attorney Michelle Henry said. "Ultimately, leaving the child strapped into a car seat on a searing hot day for over seven hours amounts to criminal negligence."

It happened at the Fairy Tales Daycare at 239 Highland Avenue in Penndel on July 1st.

Investigators said Slutsky had been driven to the daycare center by Shvartsman, who is also a neighbor of the boy's family.

Slutsky was picked up around 9:00 a.m., and arrived at the daycare around 9:30 a.m.

D.A. Michelle Henry said Shvartsman forgot about the child for most of the day, and he was left in a minivan across the street.

It was around 84 degrees that afternoon, with the sun bearing down in the minivan all day long.

The doors were locked and the windows were rolled up, investigators said.

Investigators say the boy was found on the floor of the SUV, having apparently gotten out of his carseat and struggling to get out. The temperature inside the minivan was found to be 108 degrees.

Around 4:30 p.m., the D.A. says Shvartsman returned to the minivan to find Slutsky inside.

The boy was brought into the daycare.

Witnesses saw officers rushing Slutsky out to an emergency vehicle and said the boy looked lifeless.

The boy was taken to St. Mary Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Slutsky is ruled to have died from hyperthermia.

Shvartsman's attorney, Michael Mustokoff, called the boy's death a tragedy and said no punishment the state could impose is harsher than the penalty his client is already paying.

"There are no words to express her sadness," he said. "She loved this boy as a member of her own family."

Mustokoff said he did not believe Shvartsman's actions met the legal definition of criminal negligence, as Henry had said.

"If someone leaves a boiling pot on the stove and the house catches fire, that person is not prosecuted for arson," he said.

The boy's parents, Gil and Lyudmila Slutsky, filed a lawsuit against the center last month. Mustokoff said they want to make sure similar deaths won't happen again.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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