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Rockhampton, Gracemere: Le Smileys Early Learning Daycare’s obvious signs

A preschool where a toddler was left inside a bus for up to six hours has two signs right out the front warning parents to ‘never leave children alone in a car’.

Nevaeh Austin, three, was the only child collected in the daycare bus on Wednesday morning and taken to Le Smileys Early Learning Centre at Gracemere, near Rockhampton in central Queensland. 

However, the little girl never made it out of the bus.

The worker and female bus driver who were supervising the toddler seemingly forgot she was in the bus at all – leaving her to suffer inside the scorching vehicle all day.

Nevaeh is now fighting for life in hospital with kidney failure after she was found unconscious, steps away from two signs warning of the dangers of leaving children in hot cars. 

Nevaeh Austin is fighting for life with a failing kidney after being locked in a day care centre bus in Gracemere for six hours

The centre is littered with signs warning parents of the dangers of leaving kids in hot cars (pictured)

The centre is littered with signs warning parents of the dangers of leaving kids in hot cars (pictured)

‘Never leave children alone in a car,’ one sign reads.

‘Four-and-a-half minutes inside of a car could be as high as 70 degrees.’

The warning also outlines health risks, including heat stress, dehydration, brain injury, serious kidney damage, and death.

‘Always check your back seat is free of passengers before leaving your car,’ the sign reads.

Nevaeh was taken to Brisbane Hospital on Wednesday night for an urgent deep brain scan and treatment on a failing kidney. Doctors say her condition is critical, but stable.

The centre’s owner Michelle O’Rourke – who was not one of the two staff members on the bus – said on Thursday that she had chosen to close the centre in the wake of the tragedy.

Police said the centre was under no obligation to close. 

She also vowed not to continue the shuttle service to and from the centre in the future.

‘I apologise to families for the inconvenience however, Le Smileys Early Learning Centre will no longer be providing transportation in any form, from this point forward,’ she said in an email sent to families.

The van was parked next to signs warning parents not to leave their children in hot cars (pictured)

The van was parked next to signs warning parents not to leave their children in hot cars (pictured)

Nevaeh Austin was flown to a hospital in Brisbane where she is being treated for kidney failure after she was left in a bus (pictured) for six hours

Nevaeh Austin was flown to a hospital in Brisbane where she is being treated for kidney failure after she was left in a bus (pictured) for six hours

The email was reportedly the first correspondence some parents had received from the school despite the tragedy coming to light hours earlier.

Distraught parents arrived to pick up their children on Wednesday afternoon, marvelling at how a task as mundane as the pick up and drop off could go so wrong.

One mother claimed she was never contacted about the incident and was instead left to read about it on social media.

At the time, the only details available to her online were that an unnamed three-year-old at her own child’s day care was fighting for life.

Capricornia Police District Detective Inspector Darrin Shadlow said the facility and the staff members involved have now sought legal advice.

Police swarmed the scene on Thursday morning after a little girl was found unconscious in a van (scene pictured)

Police swarmed the scene on Thursday morning after a little girl was found unconscious in a van (scene pictured)

They’re assisting the investigation ‘to a degree’ but contacted lawyers and ‘will be going down that path’.

Mr Shadlow told reporters on Thursday morning that the investigation was still in its early stages, but it appears Nevaeh appears to have been the only passenger. 

‘It would appear she was the only child at the time,’ he told reporters on Thursday. 

‘When they returned to the centre, the driver and one other person on the bus have forgotten she was there.’ 

Inspector Shadlow said inquiries indicate there were breaches of policy which led to the incident and detectives will be ‘looking at everyone involved in this matter’. 

‘We will leave no stone unturned in relation to this investigation,’ he said

‘We have assistance from the crime intelligence command, our child trauma unit in Brisbane, and photographic and forensic officers attending the scene, just so we can get to the base of what has happened.’

He said the day care is ‘cooperating to a degree’ but ‘have sought legal advice and will be going down that path’. 

Inspector Shadlow said her family are understandably ‘distraught’ and are by her bedside in Brisbane. 

Five police vehicles were in attendance monitoring access to and from the childcare facility (scene pictured)

Five police vehicles were in attendance monitoring access to and from the childcare facility (scene pictured)

Cops told Daily Mail Australia there will be a heavy police presence throughout the week as the investigation continues, but the centre is under no obligation to close while inquiries continue.

The centre was supposed to open at 6.15am and by 6.45am was still not taking phone calls.

Inspector Shadlow said the bus and day care centre have both been declared crime scenes. 

The bus, which is believed to be owned by the centre, will not be allowed to be used until the declaration is lifted. 

Distraught parents arrived at the school to pick up their children on Wednesday afternoon, marvelling at how a task as mundane as the pick up and drop off could go so wrong.

One mother claimed the school never contacted her to alert her to the incident and she instead was left to read about it on social media.

Capricornia Police District Detective Inspector Darrin Shadlow said the investigation was still in its early stages, but it appears she was the only passenger

Capricornia Police District Detective Inspector Darrin Shadlow said the investigation was still in its early stages, but it appears she was the only passenger

A senior Queensland politician has vowed an inquiry into the horrific incident will be launched as questions begin to be asked about how daycare centre staff didn’t notice the girl was missing. 

‘She’s the most loudest little girl they tell me… she’s the heart of the daycare,’ Mr Austin told the Courier Mail.

The toddler is understood to have been found ‘unresponsive’ in the van outside the daycare on Lucas Street about 2.50pm when staff returned to the vehicle to do afternoon pick ups. 

Queensland Ambulance Service’s Central Region operations manager Jason Thompson described the situation as ‘traumatic’ for crews who treated her and admitted he had ‘goosebumps’ talking about it. 

Nevaeh Austin was left inside a vehicle outside Le Smileys daycare centre in Gracemere  (pictured)

Nevaeh Austin was left inside a vehicle outside Le Smileys daycare centre in Gracemere  (pictured) 

‘On the crew’s arrival Queensland Police were already on scene and escorted the crew into the childcare centre where the young child was on the floor in the admin area,’ he said.

Five police vehicles were in attendance monitoring access to and from the childcare facility.

Daycare centre staff are now being interviewed by investigators and the white minivan is undergoing analysis, especially a seat in the middle of the bus.

Queensland’s assistant minister for education, Brittany Lauga, said ‘this simply shouldn’t have happened’ and vowed an inquiry would follow.

‘Tonight is a little girl in Gracemere who is fighting for her life in hospital after being allegedly left on a bus at daycare,’ Ms Lauga said in a social media post.

‘Families need to have peace of mind that when they send their children off to school, kindy or day care, they will come home safe.’



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