Gracemere, Rockhampton: Police search van little girl trapped in daycare centre: Nevaeh Austin


The police investigation into how a little girl came to be left inside a sweltering minibus for six hours continued at her childcare centre on Thursday night with a particular focus on the internal temperature of the van.

Little Nevaeh Austin has made significant progress in the hours since she was rescued from her seat at the Le Smileys Early Learning Centre in Gracemere about 3pm on Wednesday.

The three-year-old is breathing on her own and stable but faces an uphill battle as her distraught family demands answers.

Three-year-old Nevaeh Austin (pictured) was unresponsive when found on the bus at a childcare centre

The police investigation into how a little girl came to be left inside a sweltering minibus (pictured) for six hours continued at her childcare centre on Thursday night

The police investigation into how a little girl came to be left inside a sweltering minibus (pictured) for six hours continued at her childcare centre on Thursday night

A temperature recording camera appeared to be placed in the locked van by police (pictured)

A temperature recording camera appeared to be placed in the locked van by police (pictured)

Nevaeh Austin (pictured) is now awake but remains in a critical condition in hospital

Nevaeh Austin (pictured) is now awake but remains in a critical condition in hospital

Police worked late to examine the van, which has been forensically tested but not yet removed from the day care centre.

A child’s booster seat was visible as officers took pictures from multiple angles, jotted down notes and discussed their findings among one another.

A temperature recording camera appeared to be placed in the locked van at one stage. It’s understood police hoped to gauge an estimate of how hot it may have been inside the van for the six hours Nevaeh was trapped inside.

Temperatures peaked at 30C in Rockhampton on Thursday – just one degree warmer than it was on Wednesday. Estimates suggest the interior of a car could have reached 56C after just 2 hours in direct sunlight.

As the sun set, police continued to photograph the interior and exterior of the van using a high technology 3D laser scanner to exactly replicate the conditions met by the driver, her colleague and Nevaeh on Wednesday.

They paid particular attention to the glass windows on the driver’s side of the van.

Police officers are seen investigating the scene at Le Smileys Early Learning Centre in Gracemere, Queensland on Thursday

Police officers are seen investigating the scene at Le Smileys Early Learning Centre in Gracemere, Queensland on Thursday

The family of Nevaeh Austin (pictured) are now seeking answers as to how the incident could have happened

The family of Nevaeh Austin (pictured) are now seeking answers as to how the incident could have happened

Police worked late to examine the van, which has been forensically tested but not yet removed from the Queensland day care centre

Police worked late to examine the van, which has been forensically tested but not yet removed from the Queensland day care centre

A sign out the front of the school boasts of having a pick-up and drop-off service, which centre owner Michelle O’Rourke revealed on Thursday would be permanently suspended in the wake of this latest tragedy.

Just steps away from where the van was parked there are more signs warning of the dangers of leaving children in hot cars.

‘Never leave children alone in a car,’ one sign reads.

‘Four-and-a-half minutes inside of a car could be as high as 70 degrees.’

The warning also outlines health risks, including heat stress, dehydration, brain injury, serious kidney damage, and death.

‘Always check your back seat is free of passengers before leaving your car,’ the sign reads.

A child's booster seat was visible as officers took pictures from multiple angles, jotted down notes and discussed their findings among one another

A child’s booster seat was visible as officers took pictures from multiple angles, jotted down notes and discussed their findings among one another 

Police (pictured) continued to photograph the interior and exterior of the van using a high technology 3D laser scanner

Police (pictured) continued to photograph the interior and exterior of the van using a high technology 3D laser scanner

Forensic police officers (pictured) paid particular attention to the glass windows on the driver's side of the van

Forensic police officers (pictured) paid particular attention to the glass windows on the driver’s side of the van

Meanwhile inside the centre, three plain clothes detectives were sifting through administrative documents and photographing the area behind the reception desk.

Police tape blocks both the entrance to and the exit from Le Smileys and investigations are expected to continue for at least the next few days. 

Ms O’Rourke sent an email to families on Thursday morning to inform them that school would be closed until at least the end of the week.

She was the only child in the van on the day in question.

Her family are now demanding answers as to how she was forgotten by staff and left alone for six hours without anyone noticing she was missing.

Traumatised grandmother Pamela Parker arrived at the local police station on Thursday afternoon and told waiting media her family would not stop until they got answers.

Pictured: Grandmother Pamela Parker

Pictured: Father Shane Austin

The family’s of Nevaeh Austin (grandmother Pamela Parker left and father Shane Austin) said they have spoken to their little girl since the incident as she continues to fight for life in hospital

Police tape blocks both the entrance to and the exit from Le Smileys and investigations are expected to continue for at least the next few days

Police tape blocks both the entrance to and the exit from Le Smileys and investigations are expected to continue for at least the next few days 

Fighting back tears, Ms Parker said she’s feeling ‘lost, hurt and angry’.

‘I’m worried for my daughter. I’m worried for her mental health and how this is going to affect Nevaeh, at the end of the day and what this is going to do to her mental health.’

Ms Parker hopes the youngster won’t remember the ordeal, ‘but at the end of the day, we don’t know,’ she added.

Nevaeh is still in hospital and very tired, but she’s back to her ‘happy self’, family say.

‘I’m thankful my granddaughter has pulled through but what this must be doing to her, I can’t even imagine,’ she said.

Just steps away from where the van was parked there are more signs warning of the dangers of leaving children in hot cars (pictured)

Just steps away from where the van was parked there are more signs warning of the dangers of leaving children in hot cars (pictured)

A police officer is seen photographing a van in which a toddler was left for six hours

A police officer is seen photographing a van in which a toddler was left for six hours

Earlier on Thursday, the youngster’s aunt, Christy Atta-Singh, opened up about her heartache.

‘Thank you to everyone that has messaged, called or offered help at this horrendous time. It’s a disheartening time for all involved,’ she wrote on Facebook.

‘Vaeh has Austin in her blood so is fighting her little heart out, and has been raised by a tough woman.’

‘It’s gut wrenching seeing and being bedside to such an innocent child.’

Ms Atta-Singh said her niece is ‘in the best hands’ and has ‘all the love and support in the world’. 

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