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Tucson toddler dies while on vacation at South Dakota daycare

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WATERTOWN, SD (KVOA) - Back in June, a family from Marana decided to beat the Arizona heat and head to South Dakota to be with family and friends. However, that trip quickly turned into a nightmare.

Parents expect their children to be safe when leaving them at daycare, but that was not the case for the Koistinen's said that their toddler, Liam, lost his life after suffering severe trauma.

"Something you just never expect we drop him off in the morning it was the last time we got to see him. We never thought that was going to happen," said Jeff Koistinen, Liam's father.

During their vacation in South Dakota, Marana residents Jeff and Genevieve Koistinen received a call from their child's caregiver saying she could not wake up their son, Liam from his nap.

Liam's father said he immediately told the sitter to call 911.

"We had seen our son just laying on the floor in the living room," said Koistinen. "He looked fairly normal."

But the situation was not good. Liam's injuries were so serious, he had to be flown to a hospital 100 miles away in Sioux Falls.

"They ran some tests and a CAT scan, and figured out that he had some brain bleeding," said Koistinen.

After meeting with police at the hospital, the couple says they were then contacted by Child Protective Services.

"We've taken custody of Liam and we notified the hospital that you guys are not allowed to be alone with him," said Koistinen. "We couldn't believe it."

According to the police report obtained by News 4 Tucson, the babysitter, identified as Amanda Walder, admitted that Liam could have possibly hit his head on the bed frame when she was putting him down. She said that injury could have led to an internal injury.

CPS later confirmed the case against his parents was closed and the child-caregiver was taken into custody.

Liam passed away due to his injuries and was laid to rest in South Dakota.

"It's going to be tough, but we just need our friends close around us to help us get through this senseless tragedy for us," said Koistinen.

As of this publishing, Walder is out on bond. She has been ordered to have no contact with minors and no unsupervised visits with children.

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Mark Mingura

Mark Mingura joined KVOA as a Multi Media Journalist in October 2019. Originally from the valley and with ties to Tucson, Mark is excited to get back to his home state and tell the stories of the Old Pueblo.

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