Day care SIDS death leads to new legislation

SEATTLE -- A Q13 FOX News investigation into a baby's death at a Seattle day care is now grabbing the attention of lawmakers.

In November, we told you about the death of Eve Uphold, a 4-month-old girl who died last May 2 during an afternoon nap at her licensed in-home day care in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office found the cause was SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  A  state investigation by the Department of Social and Health Services ruled the provider, Rhonda Hopson, was negligent.

Investigators found the day of Eve’s death, Hopson swaddled her and put her on top of a loose waterproof pad in a portable crib in an unapproved corner of her basement and left her alone for more than an hour.  All those acts violated state child care laws.

We requested Hopson's licensing history file and what we found was alarming.  In 2001, another baby died of SIDS in her home.  In that case, she put the baby to sleep in her own adult bed surrounded by pillows and left the house.  Over the next 12 years, Hopson racked up dozens of safety violations.  Many were not corrected, yet she was allowed to continue watching children.

We shared Eve's story with state Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Shoreline, who couldn't believe this day care provider was still in operation.

“We need to assure that providers are following safe sleep practices or their license needs to be suspended.  There needs to be corrective action or they shouldn’t continue to operate because children can die and that is clearly what Eve’s case has shown us,” said Kagi.

Kagi chairs the committee that oversees the Department of Early Learning.  That is the state agency that licenses day cares in the state.  Kagi was so moved by Eve's story, she drafted new legislation that is being introduced in Olympia on Thursday.   The bill would require a child fatality review of Eve's death and any others that happen in licensed day care in Washington.

Coming up tonight on Q13 FOX News at 10 p.m., we'll explain how that process will work, and what more could come out of that fatality review to better protect children in day care.