5-year-old boy left in hot van while on a field trip with his martial arts school

Two employees charged with child neglect

LAKELAND, Fla. - When you go on the website for ATA Academy of Martial Arts in Lakeland, they offer classes and an after-school program telling parents to "worry no more."  But two of their staffers, a Lakeland woman and her 24-year-old son, were arrested Tuesday for leaving a child locked in a van while the temperature was in the 90's. 

According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Kelly Norelius and her son, Daniel Skiff, were in charge of taking a group of kids from the martial arts school on a field trip to the Family Fun Center located at 4825 S. Florida Ave. 
 
Surveillance footage released by the sheriff's office shows the group pulling up and getting out of two minivans on August 14.  But according to the arrest affidavit, Norelius and Skiff did not do a proper head count of the children and a 5-year-old boy was left locked inside one of the vans for close to an hour-and-a-half. 
 
After they realized he was missing, the surveillance video shows Skiff go outside, find him in the van, and carry him indoors. 
 
According to the sheriff's office, the child said "he was sweating inside the van and he felt really bad." He urinated on himself while stuck in the van, according to the report, because he couldn't get to a restroom. 
 
"I couldn't believe it. It's terrible," Rosanne Elmore said. 
 
Elmore's grandson, Jacob, is also a student at the martial arts academy. When she found out what happened to one of his peers on the school's watch, she wanted to make sure the staff was held accountable. 
 
"You expect that they'll be taken care of," she said. "It's bad."
 
On Wednesday, no one from the karate school would speak to us on camera. But an employee did tell us, "they are taking this very seriously."
 
Norelius and Skiff were both terminated immediately, according to an employee with ATA.. The mother and son are each facing a count of child neglect without bodily harm. 

 

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