ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis family demands an explanation after their 6-year-old son was left sleeping in the after-school van.
Jymere Evans is a kindergarten student at Lift for Life Academy. He attended the after-school program, which is a separate entity from the school.
Evans was later found by strangers wandering in the dark in downtown St. Louis.
“I was afraid because my hands were shaking,” he said. “I was so scared. I had a heart attack. I was crying. They made me walk with them. They told me to put my coat on cause I was cold.”
According to his parents, Evans was left in the after-school van for nearly three hours after he fell asleep.
“I contacted the program director, he said he would call the van driver to see what was going on,” said Latifah Mahasin, Evan’s mother. “And after that, I never heard from him.”
Temperatures were reported at 45 degrees on Monday with a wind chill of 39 around 9 p.m.
“My hands were shaking. I was cold in the van, and there was no heat,” Evans said. “They just left me cold.”
“My son is a kindergarten student, he can’t even cross the street without you holding his hand,” said Terrill Evans, Jymere’s father.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said they received a call that a 6-year-old child was found by a caller and told the caller he was lost. The police contacted the family.
The boy’s parents want answers on how something like this could occur and to make sure it does not happen again.
The Lift for Life Gym released a statement about the incident:
Our mission at Lift for Life Gym is to offer children in the City of St. Louis a safe after-school youth fitness and weightlifting program in which to strengthen their bodies and enrich their minds through instruction in Olympic lifting, powerlifting, Cross Fit, and more. As part of our program, we provide a free snack and transportation home. Lift for Life Gym is a nonprofit organization and is not affiliated with the Lift for Life Academy charter school, although many students from Lift for Life Academy and other area schools have been participating in our program since 2006.
Unfortunately, on the evening of November 28, 2022, one of our participants apparently fell asleep on the van during the ride home and was not dropped off at his home. Upon hearing from the parent that the child had not yet arrived home, the driver immediately returned to the Lift for Life Gym property to check the van and learned that the child was safely at the Mobil Mart across the street from our property. The child was then picked up by his parent from the Mobil Mart. Based upon our preliminary investigation, approximately forty-five minutes to an hour elapsed from the time the driver left the property until he returned.
The safety of our participants is our highest priority, and we have procedures in place to provide a safe and secure environment and programs. This is the first time an incident of this nature has occurred with our organization, and we are grateful that the child was not physically harmed.
The driver is currently on a leave of absence pending further investigation of the matter by both our organization and the Missouri Children’s Division. Of course, we are fully cooperating with the Children’s Division as they review this incident. At this time, we cannot comment further on the matter.