Baby Mac choked to death on electrical cord, parents' lawsuit says
The parents of Macallan "Baby Mac" Saini have filed a lawsuit claiming negligence played a role in the toddler's tragic death at an unlicensed daycare in East Vancouver last year.
The suit contains previously unreleased details about the circumstances of Mac's death, including what his parents understand to be the cause: that the toddler "had been left unattended and had choked on an electrical cord."
It also outlines in heartbreaking detail the moment Mac's mother, Shelley Sheppard, realized that their child's life had ended just 16 months after he was born.
The lawsuit says the first sign of trouble was on the street, where Sheppard saw a fire truck parked outside Olive Branch Daycare as she was arriving to pick Mac up on Jan. 18, 2017.
She followed a firefighter inside and saw that the daycare was "overcrowded with children," according to the claim, with one child hidden behind a couch and others strapped to chairs.
Eventually, she was led upstairs and saw her son Mac on the floor.
"He had a 'grey' pallor and it was evident to her that he was deceased," the lawsuit reads. "Her experience … seeing his lifeless body was shocking and horrifying."
Prior to the tragedy, documents show the operator of the unlicensed daycare, Yasmine Saad, had been investigated four times at four different addresses. During three of those investigations, she was found to have broken the law by having too many children in her care.
Under B.C.’s Community Care & Assisted Living Act, unlicensed childcare operators are only allowed to care for a maximum of two children other than their own. There are some exemptions made, including for children related to the operator by blood or marriage.
The lawsuit filed by Mac's parents names Saad and the owners of the home where Olive Branch Daycare was run as defendants, along with Vancouver Coastal Health and B.C.'s Ministry of Children and Family Development.
It claims that VCH, which is responsible for investigating daycare complaints in Vancouver, and the ministry failed to take appropriate action in response to Saad’s repeated rule-breaking, alleging she was never so much as fined.
Mac’s grieving parents believe their son's death could have been prevented if either the health authority or the ministry had "reasonable policies and procedures" to oversee daycares that have been subject to complaints.
"But for the failures of (VCH) and MCFD, their agents and employees, Mac Saini's care and safety would not have been at risk such that he lost his life," the lawsuit reads.
None of the allegations in the claim have been proven in court, and none of the people or government bodies named in the suit have provided statements of defence.
Vancouver Coastal Health told CTV News it could not comment on the specifics of Mac's case, but that its team of licensing staff works hard to ensure children in daycares are protected.
"We inspect more than 1,100 daycares routinely every year and respond to complaints," a spokesperson said in an email. "The vast majority of daycares are meeting their regulatory requirements for providing appropriate and safe care to children."
The Ministry of Children and Family Development said it would not speak about the case while it's before the courts.