A one-year-old child from Indiana who died Wednesday is believed to have drowned in the baptismal pool of a church where he regularly attended daycare, the Associated Press reported.
Employees at Praise Fellowship Assembly of God in Indianapolis found Juan Cardenas Wednesday afternoon in a pool used to perform baptisms, which was filled with about two feet of standing water. The toddler had become lost in the church shortly after arriving for daycare and workers were called in to search for him, according to WISH-TV.
When Cardenas was finally found unresponsive, emergency crews were called and he was rushed to St. Vincent Hospital in critical condition, where he was later pronounced dead, the station reported.
Investigators are now interviewing witnesses to determine what went wrong at the daycare center, which was cited for 18 minor violations the last time it was inspected in November 2011, according to RTV6.
"We have our homicide investigators here, along with members of our child abuse team and (Child Protective Services) here trying to determine how the child actually got there," Kendale Adams, Indianapolis police public information officer, told the station.
Police do not believe Cardenas was the victim of foul play and no arrests have been made, according to the station.
But at least one child care advocacy organization has spoken out about the incident, saying it could have been prevented if laws required child care centers based at faith-based centers to be licensed by the state, the Indianapolis Star reported.
According to an administrator who spoke with the paper, Indiana's Bureau of Child Care currently exempts child care ministries from a number of state regulations including medication monitoring, nutritional requirements, and a provision known as the "sight and sound" rule, which states that children must be within seeing and hearing distance of an adult at all times.
"This was preventable," Emily Barrow of Child Care Answers in Indianapolis told the Star. "Licensed facilities have a sight and sound regulation; child care ministries do not."
Church officials have not responded to media inquiries and have voluntarily closed services for the week, WISH-TV reports. An autopsy of Cardenas was performed this morning and results are pending.
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