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Four employees fired after 5-year-old dies in day care van

Image courtesy MGN Online.

By Jamiel Lynch

(CNN) — Four Arkansas day care employees were fired Wednesday after the death of a 5-year-old who was left inside a van all day.

The staff did not follow company policies and procedures, Ascent Children’s Health Services CEO Dan Sullivan said in a statement. Had they followed protocol “this tragedy would not have occurred,” he said.

“There are simply no words to express the overwhelming sadness we feel at the death of this child. We are heartbroken and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Ascent will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities and state agencies as they investigate this tragic incident,” Sullivan said.

The West Memphis, Arkansas, location has been closed since the Monday incident.

The boy’s mother told CNN affiliate WMC the van picked him up around 6:30 a.m. He may have been asleep when the van arrived at the day care early Monday and never got off the van, West Memphis Police said.

The van remained in the parking lot all day. The day care’s staff found him dead in his booster seat when they came to load children in the van to go home after 3 p.m., police said.

Police said the temperature in the day care parking lot was 91 degrees Monday afternoon when authorities responded to the incident.

Officials with the Arkansas Department of Human Services, which regulates day care centers in the state, are investigating, police said.

Ascent’s CEO said he had spoken with the child’s family to express his “deepest sympathy.” He said he has offered to assist with funeral expenses.

CNN’s Darran Simon and Andy Rose contributed to this report.