Wrongful death suit filed in infant day care fire death

SULLIVAN, Ind. - A wrongful death lawsuit was filed Friday afternoon against a Sullivan day care accusing it of negligence in the death of 17-month-old Emma Lloyd.

Emma died March 4 in a fire at Waterman’s Wonderland Daycare.

Her father George Lloyd spoke exclusively with Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney regarding the loss of his daughter.

"I feel like I let her down, that dad wasn’t there," said George Lloyd, Emma’s father, in an exclusive interview with Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney. "You want to be there. You want to protect your child."

The complaint, filed in Sullivan Circuit Court Friday, said  Emma was placed in the care of Christa Waterman, who was the individual operating the day care at that time.

“Christa Waterman tried to extinguish the fire,” read the complaint. “When this was unsuccessful, she got the other five children out of the burning building. EmmaLea was left in the burning building, where she died as a result of the fire.”   

The fire and Emma’s death were caused by the Waterman’s negligence, the complaint alleges.

“As a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the Waterman defendants, George Lloyd has suffered the loss of his daughter, the loss of his daughter’s love and companionship, and the loss of his daughter’s services, and he has incurred expense for her funeral and burial,” read the complaint.   

The lawsuit requests compensation for George Lloyd.

The complaint also names Emma Lloyd’s mother, Keesha Stewart, as a defendant but Lloyd’s attorney Edward McGlone said she is not accused of any wrongdoing.  

“It’s so that all the issues get resolved in one lawsuit,” said McGlone, adding Stewart is named as a defendant because of how the statute is written regarding wrongful death suits where the parents are not married.

The State Fire Marshal's Office inspects licensed centers and registered ministries, while the Family and Social Services Administration handles fire safety inspections at licensed homes.

Kenney did some checking and found FSSA inspected Waterman’s several months before the fire, on Nov. 7, 2013, but did not find any fire safety issues.

No fire violations were found at Waterman’s in 2011 or 2012 either.

According to a case report from the State Fire Marshal, the baseboard heater may have caught the couch on fire.

"It was determined that the fire originated on or near a couch on the north side of the building near the TV," read the State Fire Marshal’s report.

When Kenney stopped by Waterman’s in April, the day care had been demolished and the day care owners did not want to talk about the fire.

"You guys don't need to be here," said a woman who identified herself as part of the Waterman family.

Kenney was unable to reach the Watermans Friday afternoon for comment on the wrongful death suit.

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