Child with autism left behind in daycare center van

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KPLR) – A St. Louis County family claims their five-year-old daughter with autism was abandoned on a daycare van for hours before anyone noticed she was missing.

There are signs placed on the front door at Precious Love Academy and Day Care on Bellefontaine Road that reads, “Due to a staffing emergency, the daycare will not be able to serve children and will be closed temporary.” That comes as the family of the five-year-old alleged a daycare driver failed to follow protocol by not checking the van before leaving.

Carl Payton says he and his family are counting their blessing as he holds his five-year-old granddaughter Syria tight.

He says the child allegedly endured about two hours strapped in a seat belt—alone—inside a cold, parked van at the Precious Love Academy and Day Care. Payton says Syria remains shaken up about the ordeal.

The family told FOX 2 News Syria has autism and claims she was picked up by the Precious Love Academy van at her regular daycare for their after school program.

But when Syria's mother arrived to pick her up, the family claims workers had no idea where the five-year- old was.

"This is a parent’s worst nightmare; to go and pick up their child, and the child is nowhere to be found," said Payton.

Payton says a search of the van that normally sits in front of the day care resulted in Syria finally being found.

“We just want people to be accountable, we want answers,” said Payton.

Our Fox 2 News crews attempted to reach the owner of the daycare, but our calls have not been returned. The family says they, too, have made several calls to the daycare seeking answers but have yet to hear back.

Another daycare parent told our news crews the owner is currently in the hospital and left the day to day operations in the hands of another employee and will look into the incident.

The daycare is set to reopen Monday, that's when Syria’s family is hoping to find out what exactly happen and if the driver will be disciplined.