PARKERSBURG - A wrongful death suit has been filed against the owner of a Wood County day care where a 4-year-old girl was found dead in a vehicle.
Shawna Wise, as administrator of her daughter Mercedes Wise's estate, filed a wrongful death suit last week in Wood County Circuit Court.
Wise, represented by Todd Wiseman, is seeking unspecified damages from Lester and Linda Rockhold, owners and operators of Lynn's Little Wonders Daycare Center.
Mercedes Wise's body was found in a vehicle near the daycare around 5 p.m. Sept. 1.
The suit alleges Wise died after being left unattended in the vehicle for about seven hours on a sunny, 89-degree day.
"By the time that Lester Rockhold, Linda Rockhold and/or any others became aware that Mercedes Wise was not properly accounted for, Mercedes Wise had already sustained fatal injuries caused by the negligence of the defendants," the suit states.
According to the suit, Lester Rockhold picked up Shawna and Mercedes Wise at their home to provide transportation to West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Once Shawna Wise was dropped off at WVU-P, Rockhold took Mercedes Wise to the daycare at Dempsie Avenue.
The suit claims Lester Rockhold provided similar transportation for the Wises on prior occasions.
Rockhold delivered Shawna Wise at WVU-P shortly after 9 a.m. then proceeded to the day care where, according to the suit, "he failed to retrieve Mercedes Wise from the inside of the automobile."
The suit alleges Mercedes Wise was left in the car that:
The suit alleges Lester and Linda Rockhold, aware of Lester Rockhold's previous transportation arrangements with Shawna Wise, failed to recognize Mercedes Wise had not been delivered to the day care.
"Lester Rockhold and Linda Rockhold, and perhaps others, failed to discover that Mercedes Wise had been left completely unattended to, inside of an automobile on a day that was sunny and approximately 89 degrees Fahrenheit," the suit states.
The suit claims the Rockholds had an obligation to exercise proper care and supervision of Mercedes Wise and had a duty to know the whereabouts of the child.
The failure to account for Mercedes Wise "constituted negligence for which the death of a 4-year-old child was reasonably foreseeable," the suit states.
Shawna Wise seeks an unspecified amount of money for compensation, pain and suffering, funeral expenses and all other damages and losses recoverable under state law. The Rockholds have 20 days to respond to the suit.
The number for Lynn's Little Wonders Daycare has been disconnected. An email sent to Linda Rockhold seeking comment was not returned Monday.
It had previously been reported the day care's license had been revoked and a probe had been launched by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Phone messages and emails sent to the health and human resources communications department for comment were not returned.
No charges have been filed related to Mercedes Wise's death. Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Jason Wharton and Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy said investigators are still awaiting the autopsy results to determine a cause of death. The state medical examiner is waiting on the toxicology report to complete the autopsy, Wharton said.
"Until the medical examiner gets the toxicology report and renders its cause of death, we are in a holding pattern," Wharton stated in a text message.