The mother and daughter owners of a day care in San Jose have been arrested and charged with felony child endangerment. Shahin Gheblehshenas, 64, and Nina Fathizadeh, 41, surrendered to authorities on Friday and were booked at the Santa Clara County Main Jail. They have been accused of neglecting to ensure the closure of a pool gate before allowing children to play in the backyard. The incident occurred on October 2, resulting in the deaths of two toddler girls. A third child, a boy, survived and is expected to recover.
An investigation by the San Jose police and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office revealed that the children were unsupervised in a patio play area while Fathizadeh was preparing breakfast. The gate surrounding the pool had been propped open, and neither owner had checked it. Prosecutors have charged the owners with three counts of felony child endangerment.
The investigation also found that Fathizadeh had expressed concerns about being able to watch over the children due to a sick call and Gheblehshenas’ absence for a medical appointment. However, the parents of the children were not notified about the staffing shortage. Detectives discovered that Gheblehshenas did not return to the daycare to provide relief when she realized her medical appointment was scheduled for the following week. Instead, she went to another unlicensed daycare site that they operated.
The owners were aware that Gheblehshenas’ husband would occasionally prop open the pool gate to water plants and sometimes forget to close it. On the morning of the incident, Fathizadeh let the children into the backyard and reportedly saw the unsecured gate but did not make any effort to close it. When she checked on the children after a few minutes, she found the boy floating in the shallow end of the pool. The two girls were found floating in the deep end after Fathizadeh woke her brother, who was asleep in the house.
Following the drownings, the state Department of Social Services issued citations to the daycare facility and warned the owners of potential consequences, including being barred from operating a daycare in the future. The owners were also fined $11,000. The investigation revealed previous infractions, including not properly documenting checks on sleeping children and exceeding the allowed number of infants in their care.
The arraignment for Gheblehshenas and Fathizadeh is scheduled for December 6 in a San Jose courtroom. District Attorney Jeff Rosen emphasized the responsibility of caregivers to ensure the safety of children and stated that the defendants would be held accountable for the tragedy.