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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- One week after a daycare van was involved in a fatal crash, WDRB News has uncovered a long list of disturbing accusations involving safety and other issues with the Heavenly Angels Childcare Centers.
There's a promise the owner made in one of the documents that was broken during last week's deadly crash. Meanwhile, we've also gotten recordings of the 911 calls that really show us how horrific the scene was.
Through the girth of 500 pages of state documents that include investigations and complaints, we are learning about the daycare's past. One person claimed carseats were not used for kids who needed them and that seatbelts were missing in two vans. A witness we spoke to backs up these safety claims.
"It was very gruesome, I started handing the children out and there were like four kids in one seatbelt and all shifted to one side," said James Jaggers, who helped rescue the children in the van.
Another complaint says after a driver wrecked a van in April, daycare staff used their personal vehicles to transport kids, and was concerned some were not insured. Another person complained that van drivers drove so fast, kids would fall out of their seats.
State officials were not able to confirm all of the claims, but they did find some problems. The state found that the center's van would often have more than the allowed 13 children on-board. Twice, in December of 2010, 16 kids were transported in the van.
In her own handwriting, owner Lavonia Lewars said "I now make sure that the maximum allowed (13) is transported on van." But last week, 14 kids were sent to the hospital. An adult in the van died.
More complaints allege the owner would pay staff to take the GED for other staff members. State officials say the facility failed to ensure some employees had completed background checks on file.
State officials also learned one daycare van driver was once pulled over going nearly 20 miles over the speed limit. She was cited for driving without a license or insurance, and was arrested on unrelated charges. Lewars voluntarily shut down her three daycare centers after the wreck.
Police are still investigating the crash. The driver and one child remain in the hospital.