11-Week-Old Infant Killed at Daycare. Parents Say It Wasn't an 'Accident'


Ali Dodd didn’t want to leave her newborn in daycare at just 11 weeks old to return to work, but the bills weren’t going to pay themselves. She and her husband chose a highly recommended in-home daycare provider to care for their precious son, Shepard Dodd.

April 6, 2015, marked just the sixth time Shepard went to daycare. But only hours after dropping him off, Dodd’s life changed forever with a frantic phone call from the daycare provider.

“She said, ‘Ali, get here quick. I don’t know what happened!” Dodd later told Us Weekly. “I put him down for a nap, and when I came back to check on him, he was blue,” the daycare provider had said.

Dodd and her husband, Derek Dodd, will never forget the anguished moments they realized Shepard was gone. As if the shock and horror of losing their baby weren’t enough, the Dodds had to grapple with the reality that Shepard’s death was 100 percent preventable.

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As reported by Us Weekly, Shepard’s official cause of death was positional asphyxiation. Swaddled and left alone to sleep in a car seat, Shepard’s head sank down into his chest, and not having the neck strength to lift his head, the baby suffocated.

Unbelievably, the daycare provider already had a citation against her from the Department of Human Services for putting babies to bed using unsafe sleep methods. “This wasn’t an accident,” Derek Dodd insisted.

“She knew that a car seat wasn’t safe for sleep and that two hours is much too long to leave an infant behind a closed door,” the pained father explained. According to Derek, the childcare provider has not been charged with any crime to date, and Shepard’s case is still open.

Ali and Derek have spent the last three years honoring their son’s life by trying to keep this tragedy from destroying other families. They are on a mission to educate parents and caregivers about the vital importance of safe sleep practices.

The couple has tackled Oklahoma legislation to insist on higher daycare standards. They also created Shepard’s Watch, a non-profit dedicated to educating people about infant and child safety.

“Shepard’s death doesn’t have to be in vain,” Derek explained. “Unsafe sleep surfaces are a REAL danger. We’re looking to focus the attention to safe sleep standards so they can protect Oklahoma’s children from negligent decisions.”

As written on their non-profit page, “every baby deserves to wake up.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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