A toddler in Utah has died after a daycare staffer unknowingly suffocated him under a bean bag chair.
This Saturday, September 17, would have been Leonardo Sanchez's second birthday. But after a heart-wrenching tragedy last week, his family is instead planning that day to hold funeral services for the young boy, who died after an incident at the West Jordan Child Center in Utah.
Authorities have confirmed that the toddler suffocated under a large bean bag chair as an employee unknowingly sat on top of him. When police reached the center, the 1-year-old was found unresponsive, and he later died at a nearby hospital.
How could this happen? According to West Jordan police, who reviewed security camera footage from that day, Leo seemingly crept beneath the chair to hide. A daycare staffer, who did not notice his absence, then sat on top of the bean bag for several minutes, reading to the other children. Police say the child was stuck under the chair for up to 15 minutes before staffers at the center noticed he was missing. He suffocated, and was found unconscious. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at Salt Lake City's Primary Children's Hospital later that night.
Leo was the third oldest of Dan and Danielle Sanchez's four children.
"I'm just confused," Danielle told NBC News 12. "I'm so confused...how you don't know where my kid is. How do you not feel him? How do you not hear him scream?"
While police have not been able to answer those questions, they have said it's clear the daycare staffer was unaware of what was happening. "That adult, according to everything we've seen, did not know the child was underneath," a police spokesman told People.
“We regret deeply the tragic death of a young toddler at our daycare facility," reads a statement released by the West Jordan Child Center. "No words adequately describe the depth of the sorrow we feel. And, of course, we do not pretend to understand how devastating this is for the family. We know the family well, we grieve with them, and we pray that God will provide them the comfort and peace they inevitably will need.”
While our hearts are breaking for the Sanchez family after this truly unthinkable event, we also have to commend them for their selflessness in the face of tragedy: Dan and Danielle have asked that those who attend Leo's funeral this Saturday bring a birthday present, which will then be given to patients at a children's hospital.
Fox 13 reports that the funeral will be open to members of the public, but a specific time and location has not yet been determined. However, if you would like to donate to the Sanchez family, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover the funeral costs.