An Arkansas legislator who oversees a child-care company said Wednesday that he feels "overwhelming sadness" over the death of a 5-year-old inside a day care's vehicle. The center has fired four employees.
Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro, who has served as CEO of Ascent since 2013, said that "staff did not follow company policies and procedures, and if they had, this tragedy would not have occurred."
Christopher Gardner was picked up at 6:40 a.m. Monday by a van from the Ascent Children's Health Services in West Memphis, the Associated Press previously reported.
The 5-year-old was never taken inside the facility, which serves children with developmental disabilities, and was reportedly found dead, still strapped in a booster seat, more than eight hours later when employees were preparing to take children home.
The heat index for the area reportedly reached nearly 100 degrees Monday afternoon.
Police have not said whether charges will be filed in the child's death. The state Department of Human Services is reportedly conducting an investigation into the facility.
Sullivan says the company has been in contact with Christopher's family and that it will continue to work with the authorities investigating the death.
Ascent operates facilities across Arkansas, including centers in North Little Rock, Jonesboro and Arkadelphia.
The second-term state representative said in a statement that 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," Sullivan stated.
The West Memphis location will be closed through Friday, the statement said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.