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Burned toddler recovering after surgeries

POSTED: July 16, 2014 12:02 a.m.
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Sue Dupree

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Progress is being made in the recovery of a burned 16-month-old, whose injuries led to the closing of a Clermont day care center.

Doctors have performed multiple surgeries on Damon Gaddis, the toddler at the center of the Discovering Basics burning case. On Friday, Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning issued a license revocation order for Discovering Basics, in relation to the alleged burning of Gaddis on June 13 at the center.

“The child is recovering and has had two surgeries and will have to have many more,” said Mike Weaver, attorney for Gaddis’ mother Megan Seabolt. “But ultimately he’ll make a full recovery.”

Discovering Basics owner Minnie “Sue” Dupree, 66, site director Tara Miller, 40, both of Gainesville, and employee Eddye Pittmon, 55, of Talmo, all face charges relating to Gaddis. Miller is Dupree’s daughter.

Dupree is charged with influencing testimony in connection with allegedly intimidating an employee into destroying photographic evidence. Miller faces a charge of child cruelty in the second degree in connection with allegedly knowing of the injury and not seeking medical attention for Gaddis. Pittmon is charged with child cruelty in the first degree. All of the day care’s employees’ cases moved to Superior Court on July 11.

Gaddis received skin grafts in the days following the injury. Over the past few weeks, he and his family have returned to burn centers in Augusta and Austell. At the Augusta burn center, doctors used cadavers to perform skin grafts on Gaddis with mixed results, Weaver said.

“It’s hard on the family to have to go to Austell and Augusta to the burn center on a regular basis, because they don’t have a lot of finances. But they’re getting it done, and he’s getting the care that he needs,” Weaver said.

Jim Walters, attorney for Dupree in regard to Discovering Basics, could not be reached for comment.

The day care has been closed since June 24, receiving Friday’s license revocation after a three-week investigation by DECAL. Discovering Basics has 10 days from the date of the order to appeal the revocation, and a hearing would be held by the Office of State Administrative Hearings.

Reg Griffin, chief communications officer with DECAL, said his office has not received any notice of an appeal as of press time.

If the center were to appeal, Griffin said, it would be required to stay closed until the hearing.



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