Police Search For Answers In Toddler Day Care Van Death
DORCHESTER (CBS) – Boston police have identified the 17-month-old who died in a locked van in Dorchester on Monday.
Gabriel Pierre was found dead in the day care van parked in front of Gloria Luna’s Family Day Care on Floyd Street in Dorchester.
“Our family is heartbroken over the loss of our beautiful son, Gabriel. Gabriel was a very happy child and his picture says everything. We are asking everyone to please be respectful of our privacy as we try to grieve and cope with our unimaginable circumstance,” said Virginia Cazir, the boy’s mother, in a statement.
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports.
Police said Gabriel did not attend that day care, but was supposed to be dropped off at another facility Monday.
It appears he was inside the van for up to six-and-a-half hours before he was found around 3:30 p.m.
The van driver, Luis Matos, is married to the owner of the day care, which, as a result of the investigation, has been shut down for the time being and cited for numerous violations.
His friends call him a hard-working and deeply religious man. Tuesday night they gathered at St. Andrew’s Church in Jamaica Plain for prayers and support of Matos, who police say found the 17-month-old boy left behind in his transportation van.
“Physically he’s much better, but he told me emotionally it’s very, very tough,” said friend Juan Valerio who leads the congregation at the church and visited Matos in the hospital where he is suffering from stress. He says Matos is active and well respected in the Dominican community, and calls what happened a terrible mistake.
“I know from the bottom of my heart it was nothing intentional,” he said. The van was parked in front of the Gloria Luna family daycare on Floyd Street in Dorchester, a facility owned by Matos’ wife.
An autopsy will be done to determine how the child died.
Grieving relatives and friends visited the mother earlier in the day.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Karen Twomey reports
“He was a joy, just a joy, a bunch of smiles. He was so handsome, he was so cute. It was just all smiles when you saw him. He lit up a room,” Myrthza Ladouceur said.
The driver was reportedly distraught after the discovery. He was taken to a hospital where he was treated for chest pain.
The Inspectional Services Department will hold an administrative hearing for the property which houses Gloria Luna’s Family Day Care on Thursday September 15.
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano contributed to this report.