Home day care closes

Woman gives up license before death of child she cared for

State investigating

Toddler taken off life support after he nearly drowned at lake

July 22, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

An Arbutus woman has voluntarily surrendered a state-issued license to provide child day care at her home after a toddler she was supervising nearly drowned Monday on a field trip in Carroll County, authorities said yesterday.

Davon William Jasper, 2 1/2, of Forest Park died yesterday at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, where he had been on life support since Monday evening.

The child care provider, Andrea Gwynn, operated Basically Kids from her Arbutus home. Several messages left for Gwynn since Tuesday were not returned.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Resources said Gwynn turned over her license to Maryland Child Care Administration officials Tuesday, hours before family members requested life support for the child be withdrawn.

Their decision to donate Davon's vital organs was made after doctors said no brain activity could be discerned, Mark Jasper, the child's father, said Tuesday.

In a written statement yesterday, DHR officials said Gwynn had been a licensed provider since May 1997.

Elyn Garrett Jones, deputy director of communications for DHR, said an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Monday's incident at Cascade Lake, a picnic and swimming recreation facility north of Westminster, will be conducted by state and local officials.

Tfc. Andrew Eways, a criminal investigator at the Westminster barracks of the Maryland State Police, said his part of the investigation has been completed.

Eways said the near-drowning that contributed to Davon's death was a "tragic accident." He said no criminal activity was apparent and that, barring additional information, the case is closed.

Jones said reports from the state police and the Maryland Child Care Administration will be reviewed by state officials from Child Protective Services, who also conduct an investigation, to determine if regulations governing child care supervision were followed.

Jones would not discuss specifics of Monday's accident, but provided copies of State Child Care Administration regulations that address field trips and water safety.

Before a child care provider takes children swimming or wading, written permission must be obtained from a parent.

The regulations specify that a child must be "continuously supervised" in the water and distinguish between depths of "under 4 feet" and "in excess of 4 feet." The child care provider or a substitute must have certified life-saving training to take children into water deeper than 4 feet.

Davon was found by a teen-age swimmer in 4 feet of water, just beyond the rope-marked shallow portion of the lake used for swimming.

The regulations further state that when the water "is over any child's chest and the child cannot swim, an additional adult shall be present in the water to supervise the child or children."

Eways said information he received from witnesses indicated that 31 children had gone to the lake with a "handful" of adults. Eways interpreted "handful" to mean four to six.

In that group were three independent child care providers, but Eways said he did not know how many children arrived with each provider, nor how many other adults accompanied each provider.

Jones also said that whenever an investigation of a child care provider is conducted, the provider's license is temporarily suspended until the investigation is completed.

"That is not necessary for this investigation," Jones said. "Ms. Gwynn has indicated that she no longer intends to provide child care."

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