Legacy Academy Daycare has been shut down while police investigate the death of a child who was found unresponsive July 11th.
Friends and family mourn the loss of little Sterling Gerber, who was described as happy and healthy before he was dropped off at the Yukon Child Care provider.
“The night before, we were out playing with him, loving on him…happiest baby you ever saw in your life,” says Phil Adams, who is a friend to the victim’s family.
Last Wednesday, a police reports states that a "...teacher was on the mat on the floor..." laying near Sterling.
Sterling had taken a bottle earlier, and then fell asleep "laying propped on a boppy," a type of breastfeeding pillow.
When another child started crying, the teacher went to check on the other baby. Police say when she came back minutes later, Sterling wasn't breathing, and the teacher called her director.
He was taken to the hospital where he later died.
The day after Sterling’s death, DHS cited the daycare for "lack of supervision" in the infant room.
The facility agreed to cease care, and issued the following statement.
A known child safety advocate has since learned of the Sterling’s death.
Ali Dodd has helped create statues to protect Oklahoma children, and is calling for further action by the state to prevent sleep-related infant deaths.
She says Boppy’s should not be allowed in daycares.
“I don't know why they are there. You are not breastfeeding a child. So why is there a breastfeeding pillow in the daycare?” Dodd asks.
Dodd lost her own child, Shepard, involving another fatal daycare incident, April 6th, 2015.
Her organization, Shepard’s Watch has partnered with local groups to offer free services to parents, such as education and awareness about local facilities.
“I have helped Rainbow Fleet develop their safe sleep training that they offer child care providers. They all now have to have two hours of formal safe sleep training,” says Dodd.
Legacy Academy completed safe sleep classes according to DHS.
Numbers show in 2017, five children died while in child care facilities throughout Oklahoma. One child died in an unlicensed child care home. Four passed away in a licensed child care home, and that year there were no deaths in licensed child care centers.
In 2018, Oklahoma has already reached those numbers. Records show two children passed in unlicensed child care homes, another in a licensed child care home, and two in licensed child care centers.
As the family of baby Sterling waits for the medical examiner’s report, grief and bills continue to pile up.
Sterling's funeral was Wednesday.
“Brand new moms and dads, you’re on your first child. There is not a lot whole lot of time to set aside five or 10-thousand dollars for a funeral,” says Adams.
A Gofundme link has been set-up to help the family.