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Daycare van driver found guilty of 2023 hot car death of Omaha toddler

Posted at 10:02 PM, May 23, 2024

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It was 97 degrees outside by mid-afternoon on Aug. 21, 2023. The heat index was up to 114, and the National Weather Service had issued a heat advisory, warning the public of heat-related illnesses and how to stay prepared. That includes tips like avoiding strenuous activity, finding shade, and never to leave young children or pets unattended in vehicles.

Ra'miyah Worthington was one year old when she was left in a van at "Kidz of the Future Child Development Center II" for approximately five hours. She was given CPR on the way to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. An affidavit filed in Douglas County court the next day included the account of the daycare van driver, Ryan D. Williams, who told police that he normally checked the van to make sure all the children were out. But that day, he was distracted by one of approximately nine of the passengers he was transporting, and didn't conduct his normal sweep.

It wasn't until Williams returned to the van for his afternoon route that he discovered Worthington lying unresponsive on the floor inside. He ran back inside with her and 911 was called, and Williams admitted his mistake to police.

On Thursday, he was found guilty of child abuse by neglect resulting in death after a two-day bench trial in the District Court Douglas County. The case was presided over by Judge Peter Bataillon and Williams' sentencing is scheduled for July 22.

Worthington's death was the first childcare center death in Nebraska since 2021, the second of only two statewide in a span of five years. The daycare was issued a suspension by emergency orderfrom the Nebraska Dept. of Health and Human Services the day after she died and records do not reflect that it was ever lifted.

Last August, 3 News Now met Ra'miyah's parents, who said she was the youngest of six children, and that two of her other siblings were attending the daycare with her. They were grieving the loss of Ra'miyah, but a community gathering held in her honor doubled as the family's call to action to prevent other hot-car deaths.

A public gathering also formed at the other "Kidz of the Future Child Development Center" in North Omaha, a 10-minute drive from the location Worthington attended at S. 50th and Leavenworth Street.

A listing of all licensed childcare providers in the state of Nebraska is maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services. As of mid-May, only the North Omaha location of Kidz of the Future is listed as current and accredited Meanwhile, a DHHS record for the site of the former Kidz of the Future II shows that a new daycare with separate ownership opened in February.

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