Woman who ran Gloucester daycare found not guilty after child fractured skull in zipline fall


GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) — A woman in Gloucester who ran a privately-owned daycare where a child fell and fractured his skull was found not guilty in court Tuesday.

The incident happened in September 2018 when a 7-year-old boy was playing on the playground outside Sunshine Kids Family Daycare in Gloucester. The child reportedly fell off a zipline and fractured his skull.

The boy spent eight day at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk for treatment.

After further investigation, 55-year-old Kristen Strothard Hurd, who ran the privately-owned daycare with her husband off Horsley Street, was indicted by a grand jury in March of 2019 and later arrested without incident on one count of felony abuse and neglect.

“I feel like the court system as a whole let everybody down today,” said Rich Vaughan, the boy’s dad. “Fortunately he made a full recovery. Is he ever going to be the same? No.”

On Tuesday, the now-8-year-old testified against his former daycare’s owner.  

“My son was hurt,” Vaughan added.  “My son was almost killed.”

The zipline was in her back yard. He suffered a skull fracture.

“It was affixed to two trees and the distance between the two trees was 81 feet,” an investigator told the judge.

Kristen Strothard Hurd (WAVY photo/Walter Hildebrand)

Prosecutors say Hurd wasn’t supervising children in her care.  She also didn’t provide safety gear for the children using the zip line. 

Hurd was running the daycare without a license. She needed one because of the number of kids she was watching. Hurd’s attorney argued that the law required Hurd to know that she needed a license and in court deputies testified she had no idea of that law.

“Mrs. Hurd was charged with essentially a bad accident and a child got [hurt], but accidents happen,” said Hurd’s attorney Devin Hensley.

Hurd’s attorney argued she didn’t do anything to intentionally hurt the child. The judge agreed and dismissed the case.

“It’s just wonderful to see her with her friends and family who are just experiencing a lot of relief,” Hensley added after the case finished.

Vaughan said the effects of the zipline incident still linger for their family.

“It has been uprooting to say the least for us,” said Vaughan.  “A year and a half ago we had a 7-year-old boy that wanted to run, that wanted to play and that wanted to play football, but now we have to be very careful about what we let him do.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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