Vigil for Noah Sneed
Chanese Sneed sobbed loudly as her friends and family surrounded her in prayer Tuesday night outside the Oakland Park daycare center where her 2-year-old son lost his life the day before.
Dozens showed up — many carrying candles and colorful balloons — to pay tribute to Noah Sneed, the boy who loved to smile, play with his older brother and sister and give hugs and kisses.
“I miss my baby,” she said through tears. “I just want justice for my baby.”
Noah’s life was cut short Monday when he was left inside a Ceressa’s Day Care and Preschool van in the parking lot at the center, 3140 NW 21st Ave. While it was not known how long he was left in the sweltering heat, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said he was picked up in the morning by the daycare center and not found until a daycare worker discovered his body in the van at 3 p.m. Monday.
BSO has not released details about the investigation and no charges had been filed.
Earlier Tuesday morning, the school, which has a capacity of 40 children, was locked and the lights were off. BSO said Tuesday afternoon the center was closed, pending its investigation.
Angela Elouidor, who is listed in state corporate records as one of the four officers/directors of the center, declined to comment Tuesday. Lakiela Harris, another officer, hung up. The other two, Linda Harris, listed as the registered agent, and Tammorah Jackson, could not be reached. All four listed a Lauderhill address in the state records.
A former employee at the center, Lasona Woodard, 39, stopped by the facility Tuesday and spoke lovingly about Noah. The Broward Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet disclosed the cause of his death, citing BSO’s investigation.
“He was such a sweet baby,” said Woodard, who said she worked at the daycare from 2016 to 2018. “I nicknamed him Smiley because he was always smiling.”
Noah had been going to Ceressa’s since he was an infant, Woodard said.
Woodard maintained there were always at least two teachers in each room of the day care, which she described as “always packed.” Every child was watched at all times, she added.
“This must have been a tragic accident,” Woodard said.
Heat stroke is the No. 1 cause of death in vehicles when there isn’t a crash for U.S. children under age 15, according to healthychildren.org.
As BSO detectives try to piece together the tragedy, the community is coming together for the Sneed family. The boy’s mother lives at a homeless shelter near the day care. She has two other children, a boy and a girl, according to her Facebook profile.
“We are deeply saddened,” Ryon Coote, the shelter’s chief development officer, said Tuesday. “Our focus is to connect the mom and her family with the appropriate services during this difficult time.”
At the memorial Tuesday night, Noah’s 11-year-old brother, Xavier Daley, spoke proudly of his baby brother.
“He was more than a brother,” Xavier said. “He was like a friend.”
Xavier and the family, including Noah’s father, Tony Bell, stood among the stuffed animals, flowers, photographs that lay outside the center as a tribute to Noah.
In a tearful plea Tuesday, Angela Mathis, who says she attends the same church as the Sneed family, begged the community to help Noah’s mother through her grief.
She started a GoFundMe and a Facebook Fundraiser campaign to raise money to pay for Noah’s funeral and other expenses.
“I’m just asking you guys,” Mathis said in a Facebook Live post, “Will you please help? Will you share the fundraiser that I have on the page so that we can really, really assist this mother as she continues to process this.“
Mathis also mentioned possibly starting a foundation in Noah’s honor to help prevent similar tragedies.
“Noah’s name will live forever,” she said. “Noah Sneed will never be forgotten.”
Miami Herald Information Services Director Monika Leal contributed to this report.