Family of special needs boy killed after incident at daycare speaks out
PONCHATOULA - Three-year-old Lane Gottschalk loved to play with the baby toys in his grandmother's house. Just as much as he loved the beach and riding on animals.
"He was born and he was never able to suck a bottle," his grandmother Cheryl James said. "It was like 'failure to thrive'. He was in the NICU for 38 days and they've done all kind of testing on him and they don't know what his disability is."
Lane's special needs meant never taking their eye off him for even a second.
"I have a little schedule that I make to where, you know, floor time for Lane, video time for Lane, go ride in the car with Lane, and then at night time I don't sleep," James said.
He couldn't walk, talk or hold himself up, but he sure could get around.
"He was kind of like a little wiggly thing, anyone who knows him knows he's a wiggler."
Because of this, his mom got him a custom-made harness that would keep him upright in his wheelchair. Ultimately, according to the daycare, it's what killed him.
"He was blue and unresponsive," James recalled.
Workers at Pediatric Health Choice, a special needs daycare where Lane had been attending daily for two years, say they left him alone for an undisclosed amount of time to check on another child.
"When they came back, the harness had come up under his chin," James said.
Lane had somehow wiggled down in his chair, causing the harness to choke him. Nurses attempted CPR, but Lane had been without oxygen for too long. He stayed on life support for a couple days, but doctors had declared him brain dead. His family made the decision to donate his organs.
Ponchatoula Police are currently investigating the incident, but no charges have been pressed against the daycare or its workers.
"You know, I think it's something that needs to be looked into... But as far as blame? I don't know. I can't really answer that."
An autopsy was scheduled to be completed by Monday afternoon.