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Daycare tragedy

3-year-old boy killed when sister backs car over him

News Staff Writer

Rickey Lyons III might have grown up to be a famous doctor, singer or scientist. Now, no one will ever know.
The 3-year-old, known affectionately as “Boobie” by family and friends, was struck by a car and killed last Thursday, October 31, as he and another child prepared to leave a local daycare center and enjoy an evening of trick-or-treating.
Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks said last week that numerous 911 calls came in around 5:17 p.m. Thursday, reporting that a child had been struck by a motor vehicle at Lil Angels Development Center.
The police chief said APD patrol officers arrived to find the youngster lying in a driveway of the daycare center “with severe injuries.” When emergency medical personnel arrived, the child was officially pronounced dead.
Making the incident more tragic is the fact that the driver of the car that struck the 3-year-old was the child’s 15-year-old sister. Police reports indicate that there was no adult in the vehicle with the teen.
Dena Curtis, Ricky’s mother, indicated in a Facebook post that she neither gave permission to, nor was she aware that, the 15-year-old had taken her car keys and gone to pick up the youngsters.
The death was obviously an accident, but Brooks said this week the investigation into the circumstances that led to the tragedy is ongoing.
“All aspects of this case are being investigated,” Brooks said. “Alabama Department of Human Resources has been involved from the onset, and there are still a lot of things we have to run down before we can wrap up the investigation.”
Witnesses told police that “a female was seen exiting the daycare and began walking to a vehicle” as Ricky and another small child followed behind her.
According to witnesses, the teen was reportedly unaware that the children were behind the car and began to back up so that the vehicle’s back door was not above a shallow ditch that runs along the daycare center’s western side.
“When the vehicle began moving, one of the children was struck,” Brooks said in the release. “The other was not injured.”
The youngster’s death was met with an outpouring of grief on social media that crossed social, racial and economic boundaries. Most expressed sadness at the death but noted the impact the incident would likely have on the teen.
Jamie Mullinix, reportedly the best friend of the boy’s mother, organized a memorial at the daycare center on Sunday night, November 2. The exact site at which the child was struck now is covered by an array of balloons, flowers, candles, stuffed animals and photographs that block access to the driveway.
Complicating the police end of the investigation to some degree is the fact that the daycare is located at the junction of Fillmore Drive and Rockaway Creek Road, just across the street from Rachel Patterson Elementary School.
“The fatality happened on private property,” said Brooks. “Fillmore Drive is not a city-maintained road; it’s a private drive.”
The police chief said APD investigators, once they had completed their probe, would “sit down with the District Attorney,” who would decide whether or not the case will be presented to the next county grand jury.
“That’s routine,” Brooks said. “Anytime a death occurs, we have to present the case to the DA.”