Woman may not face charges in infant's death

Thursday, October 16th 2008, 11:13 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

ELGIN, Okla. - Life inside the Hoot household is pretty difficult since the death of 2-month-old Hannah.

Shelly Hoot took her daughter to a home day care in May and within hours her child was dead. Now, authorities said the day care worker may not face criminal charges.

The morning of May 1 was pretty much routine for the Hoot family, a mother getting ready for work and dropping her daughters at the babysitter.

"I had fed my daughter, Hannah, two ounces and I told the daycare lady that she needed to eat as soon as possible," Shelly Hoot said.

But later that morning, Shelly received a devastating phone call from Diana Tyler, the caretaker of a home-based daycare center Joyful Journeys.

"She had laid the baby down for a nap, and she wasn't breathing," Hoot said.

According to Department of Human Services documents, Tyler admitting putting Hannah down for nap around 8:30 that morning. Tyler said she put Hannah on her side and used a cloth diaper to hold a pacifier in place. The diaper was placed over Hannah's shoulder and across the bottom of the pacifier.

The report originally stated the diaper was placed under the infant's shoulder, but Tyler requested a change after the report was completed.

Tyler found Hannah dead after checking on her about 9:30 a.m., an hour after she was put down for her nap.

DHS said Tyler violated several daycare licensing requirements, including placing Hannah on her side instead of her back, covering her face, not checking on her for about an hour and not having adequate staff.

But despite those findings, a spokesman for the Commanche County Sheriff's Department said its investigation showed no criminal intent on the part of Tyler, and it's unlikely she will face criminal charges.

After a lengthy autopsy, the medical examiner's office still doesn't know how Hannah died either.

"We really wanted answers too, but we really didn't find any evidence leading us to a significant cause or manner of death," medical examiner's office spokeswoman Cherokee Ballard said.

NEWS 9 tried to speak to Tyler but no one answered the door.

DHS has since recommended Tyler's day care license be revoked. They have also removed foster care children that were in Tyler's care because of the violations.

The District Attorney has scheduled a meeting with the Hoot family next week.