A child caregiver who was running an unlicensed daycare got probation on Wednesday after twin girls drowned in her pool.
Elyssa and Elijah Orejuela were left in the care of the 37-year-old Jennifer Salley at her Om Baby Knoxville daycare centre on 30 July 2018. They both fell into her pool and died while there. Salley, at the time, had several violations filed against her daycare and did not even have custody of her own children at the time.
Salley had gone to the door to welcome another child when the 1-year-old got into the pool. Both children passed away and they were found floating in the pool, lifeless, when they were found by first responders.
The Knox County Sheriff’s office stated, “She said she began looking for the twins after the arrival of another child around 10 a.m. and found them in the deep end of the swimming pool.”
Salley pleaded guilty to two counts of criminally negligent homicide on Wednesday and is being required to serve four years on state supervised probation.
This fatality was only the last in a long string of complaints against the daycare centre. Even though the daycare itself was registered, Salley was not a licensed care provider. She could thus, only care for four children at a time. But reports stated that eight children at a time had been spotted at the location. A later post on Facebook reported the presence of eleven children.
There was further investigation and several issues were revealed, including misleading claims, unsanitary conditions and offering to accept payment in narcotics.
One among several visits by the authorities revealed Salley away at a doctor’s appointment while an assistant looked after the children. The caretaker appeared not to know the names of the children and there were reports of a strong smell of feces.
The family of the twins released a statement. “There is no punishment for Jennifer Salley that could or would ever equal the suffering our family will endure the rest of our lives due to her criminal conduct.” It added, “No amount of jail time would turn back time. It wouldn’t bring Elyssa back. It wouldn’t bring Elijah back. It would not bring their laughs back.”