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San Jose day care owners charged for toddler drownings

For release on October 13, 2023

Sean Webby
Public Communications Officer
(408) 209-8064


San Jose day care owners charged for toddler drownings

The mother and daughter co-owners of a San Jose day care center have been charged with felony child endangerment for the criminal negligence that led to the fatal drownings of two unattended toddlers in a backyard pool. Another child was left in critical condition but is expected to make a full recovery.

Neither Nina Fathizadeh, 41, nor her mother, Shahin Gheblehshenas, 64, or any other adult were watching the three young children at the Happy Happy Daycare when they fell or jumped into the pool. Fathizadeh discovered a two-year-old that she found floating and unconscious. Two others were found floating in the deep end and were later pronounced dead. Fathizadeh owned the center with her mother. The mother was at another unlicensed daycare when the children drowned after they wandered through a propped open pool gate. 

The two defendants will be arraigned on Dec. 6, 2023, at 1:30 p.m. in Department 23 of the Hall of Justice in San Jose. If convicted, they could face jail time.

“There is a responsibility to watch over little children in your care like a hawk,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “Now it is our responsibility to make sure that these defendants are held accountable for this avoidable and heart-breaking tragedy.”  

On Oct. 2, Gheblehshenas had gone to another and unlicensed day care located at her daughter’s home, leaving the children at Happy Happy under the supervision of her daughter. At approximately 9 a.m., Fathizadeh called in a 911 report of a drowning at the small day care licensed home on Fleetwood Avenue. San Jose police learned that four children were there at the time, with another on the way. One daycare worker had called in sick, so the children were being watched by only one person.  While making breakfast, Fathizadeh left one child in a crib and let three of the children into the rear patio play area - unsupervised and out of her sight. The play area is set up in the backyard adjacent to a pool surrounded by a five-foot fence. Police found gardening equipment and other potential hazards in the backyard.

When Fathizadeh went into the yard, at least five minutes later, she found one of the children floating in the pool. As she attempted CPR, her brother – at home and now alerted to the emergency – found two other children, under two-years-old, floating unconscious in the pool.

The 16 and 18-month-old girls were later pronounced dead from drowning.

An investigation found the gate to the pool had been propped open, allowing the toddlers to enter the pool.  Neither owner had checked the gate before the children were let into the backyard despite the fact that it had been propped open several times before to water some plants.



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