Daycare worker arrested a year after 3-year-old dies in hot bus

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A former day care bus driver is making his first court appearance today after being arrested in the hot bus death of a 3-year-old boy last summer.

Maurice Mitchell is charged with injury to a child by recklessly causing his death after Raymond “RJ” Pryer died in his care last July.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office spent a year investigating RJ’s death after he was left in the daycare bus at Discovering Me Academy.

They presented the evidence to a grand jury Friday and got the indictment. Mitchell was arrested Tuesday.

“It means the world to me actually that somebody is going to be held accountable for what happened to our son,” said RJ’s mom DiKiesha Whitlock-Pryer, speaking with her husband Raymond at Doss Park where a bench was dedicated in their son’s honor. “I can hear him telling me 'bye mama'. Pointing at me, 'bye mama'. He said, 'I love you'. I said, 'I love you too'. This park means the world to me. His presence is here. His spirit is here.”

The district attorney’s office says Maurice Mitchell, 62, left RJ in the daycare bus for about four hours after returning to Discovering Me Academy from a field trip. He was found unresponsive with temperatures outside in the 90s.

“This is not an accident,” said prosecutor Michele Oncken with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. “This is not a mistake. This is a criminal action.”​​​​​​​

The Constable says Mitchell returned with 28 kids on the bus that day.

Oncken says the evidence shows he intentionally avoided checking the bus seats for anyone who still might be inside.

“He circumvented a child passenger safety alarm system that’s put in place specifically to avoid this kind of horrific tragedy from happening,” said Oncken.

She’s also alleging Mitchell used the bus as a deadly weapon.

“There was a heat index,” said Oncken. “Just horrible, horrible situation.”

RJ’s parents are now expecting their second child and has launched the RJ Foundation for Kids to get the word out about the dangers of hot vehicles. (URL: therjfoundation4kids.com)

“We don’t want anybody to go through anything that we’re going through, and we’re going to do whatever we can to help save as many kids as possible,” said RJ’s dad Raymond Pryer.