Crime

Police investigate death of infant injured at Eudora, Kan., day care

Police are investigating the death of 9-month-old Oliver Ortiz after he was fatally injured last month at a Eudora, Kan., day care. Police are calling the infant’s death “suspicious.”
Police are investigating the death of 9-month-old Oliver Ortiz after he was fatally injured last month at a Eudora, Kan., day care. Police are calling the infant’s death “suspicious.” Eudora Police Department

Police are calling the death of 9-month-old Oliver Ortiz “suspicious” after a preliminary autopsy report shows he died from injuries that occurred at a Eudora, Kan., home day care.

Oliver died Sept. 29 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital after he became unresponsive at the Sunshine Kids Group Daycare Home. The state has since suspended the day care’s license. The order is under appeal, awaiting a hearing.

The investigation began when police received a call about 3:25 p.m. Sept. 29 about an unresponsive infant at the day care in the 1300 block of Chestnut Lane.

“Our officers arrived on scene to day care staff administering CPR to the infant,” said Eudora police detective Daniel Flick. “Shortly thereafter, medical personnel arrived on scene, took control of CPR and transported the infant by ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where the infant was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

“The preliminary autopsy report has come back and has shown that the child did die from injuries that occurred at the day care,” Flick said.

Because the autopsy report is preliminary, police are calling the baby’s death suspicious. Flick declined to release the type of injuries, saying it’s an ongoing investigation.

As part of the investigation, police spoke with several people about the incident, including children at the day care who could communicate with them and their parents, Flick said.

Police also have issued several search warrants on the day care as well as on a woman who was helping the day care’s owner, seeking electronic devices including phones, computers and physical evidence, he said.

Lawrence police and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation are analyzing the evidence.

The investigation is a joint effort involving the Eudora and Lawrence police departments and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. The Eudora Police Department has been working in direct contact with the Douglas County District attorney’s office.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Oct. 6 issued an emergency order suspending the license of the day care for “child care practices.”

The agency declined to provide a copy of the order because of an ongoing criminal investigation, a spokesman for the agency said via email. The agency also said it would not release any additional information until the investigation has been concluded and it receives further guidance from police.

According to online records of annual surveys conducted by state health department dating back to 2014, the agency noted several violations dealing with incomplete medical records.

In an annual survey conducted Aug. 5, the department noted that a 9-month-old was napping behind a closed curtain in an area that was separate from the provider. That violation was corrected at the time of the survey, according to records.

A survey on Aug. 24 indicated no areas of noncompliance, according to online records.

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb

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