Provider jailed, license suspended at west Wichita day care where toddler was hurt in lawn mower accident

08/21/2014 11:12 AM

08/21/2014 7:37 PM

The state issued an emergency order of suspension Thursday for a day care in west Wichita where an 18-month-old girl had her leg partially severed below the knee by a lawn mower.

The day care provider was later arrested.

The girl was playing in the backyard of the house in the 1800 block of North Shefford Circle when she was injured at about 9:10 a.m., said Lt. Chris Bannister, head of the Exploited and Missing Child Unit. The toddler was taken to Via Christi Hospital St. Francis, where she is in critical condition.

According to Bannister, five children – two 1-year-olds and three 3-year-olds – were playing in the backyard as the resident of the house, a long-time licensed day care operator, was cutting the grass with a newer model Craftsman push mower and the girl was hurt.

“We’re still trying to figure out whether (the injured girl) was run over, fell under or how that all worked,” Bannister said Thursday.

The 39-year-old day care provider was booked into Sedgwick County Jail at 3:56 p.m. Thursday, an online roster of inmates shows. Bannister confirmed that Christy Hunt was arrested on suspicion of one count of aggravated child endangerment. She has not been formally charged.

Earlier in the day, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued the suspension order for the home day care that Hunt operates. According to a news release, state law allows the KDHE to issue such an order if “in the opinion of the Secretary, the order is necessary to protect children in the home from any potential threat to health or safety.”

The news release said the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department requested the license suspension pending its investigation into the incident. A license at the day care was renewed by the KDHE in June.

Bannister said Thursday that investigators are still trying to figure out “who was where when this occurred” and who was around the mower while it was in use.

A large outdoor play set sits in the backyard of the two-story house where the toddler was hurt. The backyard is enclosed by a wrought iron fence. Sand and a short timber border surround the play set.

Bannister said early indications suggested the girl might lose her leg. But he said late Thursday afternoon that she may be transferred to a Kansas City hospital “to possibly save the leg.”

The Exploited and Missing Child Unit is working with the Department of Children and Families and KDHE in a joint investigation of the incident, he said.

Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker of The Eagle.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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