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Lehigh Acres daycare owner charged in child's death

Melissa Smith

Lehigh Acres daycare owner charged in child's death

By FOX 4 Staff. CREATED Jul 18, 2013 - UPDATED: Jul 18, 2013

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - A Lehigh Acres daycare owner faces charges tonight in connection with the drowning death of a two-year-old child in her care.  42-year-old Melissa Smith is charged with aggravated manslaughter and three counts of child neglect.

Smith owned the Smith Family Daycare which operated out of her home.

The drowning happened the afternoon of June 24 when deputies were called to the daycare in the 5000 block of Lee Circle North about an unresponsive child needing medical aid.  Deputies tried to resuscitate Christian Byrd until paramedics arrived.  The boy later died.

An investigation showed that Smith was watching seven children under the age of five in her home that day.  She had placed Byrd along with two four-year-olds in a portable swimming pool in her backyard and left them alone.

She went inside the home to attend to three other children and went to the restroom.  After leaving the restroom one of the children told her "Christian's dead."  That's when Smith scooped the child into her arms and ran to the neighbor's home.  In doing so, she left the three children still unattended in the pool, as well as the other three in the home.