Family has questions after unknown woman picked up child from day care just before he was killed
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – A Harris County grand jury will decide whether any charges will be filed in connection with the death a 4-year-old boy at a day care center Tuesday.
The child's family is struggling to come to terms with his death after they said a stranger picked him up from K.D. Learning Center.
"I don't know what they could have been thinking. I don't know why they let my grandbaby go with someone else that I don't even know," the boy's maternal grandmother, Lisa Garrett, said.
The boy's mother is due with another baby boy any day now.
"Anthony couldn't wait. According to him, it was his little brother. It was his baby," Anthony's stepfather, James Howard, said.
Anthony Craft's stepdad speaks on family's loss. Boy's mom pregnant, due any day. Pic from their Saturday wedding. pic.twitter.com/vYS6ksTT5Y— Syan Rhodes (@SyanRhodes) March 23, 2016
His family said the day care was supposed to take Anthony to his pre-kindergarten program at Tice Elementary school Tuesday afternoon.
Instead, investigators said an 81-year old woman picked up Anthony, along with her grandson.
Harris County sheriff's deputies said the woman came to pick up her grandchild and another child at the K.D. Learning Center on Uvalde at Wallisville Road. Her grandchild was in her Lincoln Navigator, and when she started to back up, Anthony was somehow caught between the wheel and another car; when the woman tried to catch him, she fell out of the SUV.
"The Navigator itself had no one driving it, made a full circle and came to a stop at the entrance to the K.D. Learning Center," Thomas Gilliland of the Harris County Sheriff's Office said.
Surveillance video shows the woman falling from the vehicle after Anthony was struck by her SUV that then crashed into the day care.
"It could have been my grandbaby just as well," Sheila Johnson, a friend of the victim's family said.
The boy was taken by LifeFlight to Memorial Hermann Hospital with CPR in progress, but he did not survive. He died from head trauma, deputies said.
“They told me sit down,” said the boy's father, Charles Craft. He received the devastating news Tuesday afternoon.
“We got the call that he was Life-Flighted to Memorial Hermann,” said Dominique Howard, the boy’s aunt. “We made it there and he had passed away.”
Galen Park Independent School District released a statement Wednesday regarding the child's death that read:
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic event which occurred yesterday at a local day care involving one of our pre-K students. At this time, we are offering support to students and staff at the campus as needed. Our goal is to respect the family during this time of loss and provide them with services the district offers as they cope with this tragedy.
Anthony would have been 5 years old next week. His family had been planning his birthday party, but now, they’re forced to plan a funeral.
His dad says the little boy was full of life, always smiling and always wanting to learn new things. He also loved sports.
“He was my little man. He stayed on my leg, and wherever I went, he went,” Craft said. “We used to sit outside and throw the football at each other and play football. He liked playing, he was just a happy kid.”
The boy's family is full of questions.
Investigators told Channel 2 the elderly woman behind the wheel of the SUV was picking her grandson and Anthony up from the day care center, but the family tells KPRC 2 they do not know her.
“We don’t know this lady. She has no authorization to pick up my child,” Craft said. “I don’t know why he was outside the day care when this lady is not supposed to pick up my child.”
Craft said neither he nor Anthony’s mother have ever seen her before.
The family explained Anthony spent mornings at the day care center, and a bus took him to school in the afternoon.
After school, the bus would bring him back to the day care. His mom or dad would pick him up after they got off work.
“No one knows her,” said Howard. “We just want answers, and we don’t have any."
A sign at the day care says the center is closed until further notice. There is a phone number listed.
Card, candle and stuffed animal outside daycare where little boy died Tuesday. Center closed "until further notice". pic.twitter.com/f0RXO1Ai1q— Syan Rhodes (@SyanRhodes) March 23, 2016
When Channel 2 called and tried to get answers, the woman hung up.
“We’re really upset,” Howard said. “We want answers, that’s all we want.”
Watch surveillance video of the woman falling out of the vehicle below:
"It's shocking. It's a tough day for the east side," Dominique Ford, parent of a child at the day care, said.
Deputies said the elderly woman who was driving the SUV has been questioned and released. Her name has not been released.
The case will be referred to a Harris County grand jury.