Woman arrested in death of toddler left in day care van

Benjamin Price

Credit: Family photo

Benjamin Price, 3, died Friday after being left inside a daycare center van.

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by CYNTHIA VEGA

WFAA

Posted on July 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 27 at 3:25 PM

DALLAS - The Dallas police arrest affidavit in the case of a Dallas day care worker is shedding new light on the death of a 3-year-old boy left in her care.

The report shows 32-year-old Erica Hooks, of Dallas, admitted to a number of wrongdoings. The day care worker is accused of leaving 3-year-old Benjamin Price inside a parked van for more than two hours on a 100-plus degree day last Friday.

Price was found unconscious and died soon after, most likely of heat stroke, according to the medical examiner.

Hooks, an employee at Little T's Tiny Tots Daycare Center on Buckner Boulevard in Dallas, is behind bars charged with injury to a child. Her bail is set at $50,000.

The Dallas Morning News reports Hooks is also being held on two outstanding traffic tickets, including a disabled parking certificate.

In the affidavit, Hooks allegedly told police she had taken 16 children, ranging in ages from three to nine, on a field trip to the movies last Friday. The limit is 11.

She told police she counted the children as they got on and off the day care van in her head instead of signing them in as required. Upon returning to Little T's Tiny Tots Daycare Center, Hooks said she must have counted one child twice because she counted 16.

Child Protective Services said the state is continuing its investigation of the day care center. That could take up to 30 days, according to spokesperson Marissa Gonzalez.

Gonzalez also told News 8 Little T's agreed to shut down voluntarily for the duration of the state's investigation. Initially, the state had ordered the center to discontinue transporting children in any way. The day care has been closed since Tuesday.

Price's grandmother told News 8 she hates to hear of Hook's arrest, but believes the owner of the day care center should also take some responsibility for what happened to her grandson.

She said the funeral for Benjamin is scheduled at 11 a.m. August 4 at a Dallas church.

E-mail cvega@wfaa.com

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