Ga. boy dies after hanging himself on playground equipment

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. (WGCL) — Alpharetta Police believe the death of a 3-year-old boy at a daycare center on Shady Grove Lane was a tragic accident.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner identified the boy as Thomas Stephens. They ruled the death as accidental from asphyxiation by hanging.

On July 8, the boy was trying to go down the slide, police said, when a piece of twine got caught around his neck.

“There was a piece of twine shaped like a loop that was at the top of the slide,” said George Gordon, the public information officer for the Alpharetta Police Department. “Somehow, the child was on this slide, and his head got into that loop. At that point, the caregiver evidently had gone inside for a short moment. [She] turned around and saw the child outside.”

The caregiver is Janna V. Thompson, also the owner of the Ms. Janna’s Home Child Care. Gordon started CPR until first responders arrived. Paramedics rushed the boy to a hospital where he later died.

Neighbors told CBS46’s Mike Paluska that Thompson is a great caregiver and mother. They were shocked when they heard what happened.

Gordon said all signs point to this being an accident, but said they are working to make sure they do a thorough investigation of the facts.

“Could this later be ruled a homicide simply by negligent homicide? Yes,” Gordon said. “That has not occurred, but is that a possibility? Yes. We are going to look at how everything occurred and moved this case forward. Right now, we are saddened that we have a 3-year-old toddler that lost his life on a playground.”

Neighbors said Thompson and her family are so upset about what happened that they are too distraught to return to the home. They described Thompson as an amazing caregiver.

Thompson could not be reached for comment.

The agency that oversees the daycare issued an emergency order to close the facility based on what they called serious violations.

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning issued the following statement:

“The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) has issued an Order for Intended Emergency Closure of a Family Day Care Home operated by Janna V. Thompson, located at 145 Shady Grove Lane, Alpharetta, Georgia 30009. Emergency closures are used by the agency when it is determined that there has been a death of a child that was not medically anticipated. In this incident, DECAL found serious rule violations contributed to the death of a child. Parents impacted by this situation can connect with child care resources at or by calling the toll-free number 1-877-ALL GA KIDS. Parents will be assisted in locating quality child care options. DECAL provides this free service to parents. At DECAL, our top priority is the health and safety of our state’s young learners, ages birth to five years old.”

The agency did not go into specific details on what those violations were, but said they mainly dealt with supervision and hazards on the playground.


  • theremom

    Sure she will be charged for what seemed like a freak accident while parents who deliberately kill there children get slapped on the wrist.

  • Suzi

    So very very tragic….never, NEVER leave a 3 year old alone on a playground….Charges? no, this was not intentional. It was a very tragic accident & that happened during a lack of judgement, no good could come from charging the caregiver.

  • Stephanie Dawn Clark

    It may have been a freak accident, but as you can read her establishment wasn’t up to code either. Had the establishment meet all codes for operating this type of business maybe this child death could have been avoided. If this is the type of business you won’t to run it is the owner’s responsibility to keep up to code so that the safety of the children aren’t put at risk. Plus, you must have eyes on the children at all times, that again is another responsibility of the owner. It is sad that this happen and again I’m sure she didn’t mean for it to happen, but it probably could have been avoided.

  • Luv Life!

    Never, ever should a daycare employee walk away from children on a playground! This was negligence!

  • Sharon Bell

    What a tragedy! Something like this happened in my neighborhood just last week. A mom was out on the back porch with one of her kids when one of them spilled juice all over himself. She went inside to grab a change of clothes for him, and when she came back out, he youngest son had tripped and hit his head on the corner of the porch railing. He lost a lot of blood and is still in the hospital under critical condition.

    I hate to say it, but things like this do happen. When I sit down and imagine all of the ways my child could accidentally kill himself in my own home, it scares the bejesus out of me. I try to do my best to keep it a safe environment but let’s face it– we can’t always predict every little thing that might happen. I pray for both the family of the boy as well as the day care owner and her family. Let’s all hope that we are fortunate enough to never have something like this happen to any of us.

  • theresa

    Miss Janna truly loved and cared for children as if they were her own. She cared for my daughter when she was a toddler. I was always impressed with her skills and love for the children.This is such a tragedy for all involved. You are in our prayers.

  • Sammyslammy

    I have a buddy that had a child there and I could share a situation that went down that would freak you out.

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