1. News
  2. /
  3. Tampa

A toddler choked on hamburger. His mother is suing the daycare.

Felicia Davis has filed a wrongful death suit, saying Kiddie Kollege failed to save her child and questioning why he was fed hamburger.
Messiah Davis, 19 months old, choked on hamburger meat while at a South Tampa child care center and lost oxygen to his brain. He died four days later. His mother has filed a wrongful death suit. [Facebook]
Messiah Davis, 19 months old, choked on hamburger meat while at a South Tampa child care center and lost oxygen to his brain. He died four days later. His mother has filed a wrongful death suit. [Facebook]
Published Nov. 1, 2019
Updated Nov. 6, 2019

TAMPA — Little Messiah Davis, 19 months old, liked to listen to Baby Shark and watch the monster-truck cartoon Blaze.

But Messiah’s young life was cut short after he choked on hamburger meat while in the custody of child care workers who reacted by making all the wrong moves, according a lawsuit.

Felicia Davis, the boy’s mother, has filed a wrongful death action against Kiddie Kollege Hyde Park and two employees in connection with the Jan. 29 incident. The boy was taken to Tampa General Hospital and died four days later.

The lawsuit raises questions about the actions of Kiddie Kollege staff and why Messiah and other children between 1 and 2 were fed ground hamburger meat in the first place.

“My child Messiah died as a result of choking on hamburger crumbles,” Davis said in Facebook post after her son’s death. "Single moms have tough choices to make about daycare — but this is definitely not the place for your child.

People answering the phones at Kiddie Kollege said there would no immediate comment from the owners, identified in state business records as Keith and Vicki Andrews of north Tampa. The Andrews could not be reached for comment.

Messiah was being cared for in a center at 4350 S Manhattan Ave, according to the lawsuit — the address of Kiddie Kollege Baby World. Another address is listed for Kiddie Kollege Hyde Park, the defendant in the suit, at an adjacent building — at 4319 W Fair Oaks Ave.

The private pre-school and child care center has been in business for almost 30 years, according to its website.

When Messiah began choking the morning of Jan. 29, a child care staffer patted him on the back then passed him off to a co-worker, the lawsuit says. The co-worker flipped him over her arm to pat his back and tried to get him to drink water, the lawsuit says.

A third employee also was present, the lawsuit says, but did not intervene and instead “casually exited the room carrying groceries from the refrigerator.” The account of the third worker’s actions comes from a video recording made by a Kiddie Kollege surveillance camera, Angela E. Rodante, an attorney for Felicia Davis, told the Times.

Neither of the first two workers called 911, according to the lawsuit, but a 911 call was placed from Kiddie Kollege at 10:30 a.m., the lawsuit says. The caller “wrongfully described” the incident to an emergency operator so the operator provided instructions on helping a child having a seizure rather than a child who was choking, the lawsuit says.

The cause of death was a lack of oxygen to the brain following resuscitation from cardiac arrest due to choking, acccording to an autopsy obtained by the Times from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office. The manner of death was ruled accidental.

The lawsuit also quotes from a state Department of Children and Families handbook for child care centers, which says “foods that are associated with young children’s choking incidents must not be served to children under 4 years of age.” The handbook gives examples that do not include hamburger meat, but does include foods such as whole hot dogs, whole grapes, cheese cubes "and any food that is of similar shape and size of the trachea/windpipe.”

“It’s certainly a tragic set of facts,” attorney Rodante said. "You put your child in someone else’s care and they never come home.”

Inspection reports of Kiddie Kollege dating to 2017 show compliance with county standards. The county has received complaints against Kiddie Kollege on three occasions, all but one deemed unprovable.

The first, in 2014, alleged that no incident report was written about a girl with a bloody nose. The determination was unprovable. In 2016, a lack of supervision and failure to comply with feeding procedures was alleged after a parent reported finding an infant with a bottle propped up. Lack of supervision was found valid, propping up a bottle unprovable.

In 2017, a complaint was filed about inappropriate discipline after someone reported seeing a teacher yank a 3-year-old by the arm. The complaint was deemed unprovable.


  1. The area will be closed to drivers headed north and south from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. through Friday.
  2. Ed Turanchik is a lawyer and former Hillsborough County commissioner. [Times (2016)]
    Politico Ed Turanchik is warned for lobbying about the MacDill ferry after his status as a consultant ended.
  3. A new report to the Florida Legislature details the investigation that led to the forced resignations of six Moffitt Cancer Center employees in December, including president and CEO Dr. Alan List. [Moffitt Cancer Center]
    The money came from the “Thousand Talents Program” and went to personal accounts set up in China.
  4. Sydney Holton, left, and her friend Jordan Lewis yell for beads along the Gasparilla parade route on Saturday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    A week and a half after the boulevard’s latest high-profile traffic death, pedestrians got the whole road to themselves.
  5. From left, Don Haddad, Peter Licata and Addison Davis, all finalists for the job of Hillsborough County school superintendent, met Thursday with community members at Rampello K-8 School. The School Board will choose among the three on Tuesday. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
    Addison Davis, Don Haddad and Peter Licata outline their plans for the first 90 days.
  6. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking for information about a man accused of killing a duck at a Town 'N Country apartment complex in Tampa. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. [Bay News 9]
    He used bread to lure the bird in before killing it. A complaint was filed with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  7. A beer is pictured in the outdoor games area of Park & Rec on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 in St. Petersburg. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Towers of Channelside condo association has filed a lawsuit against the bar, as residents complain about noise.
  8. Rocky Johnson, a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and a resident of Lutz, died Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Johnson thought he had flu. He went to the doctor the day before he died.
  9. Yacht StarShip, a dining and water taxi company, has added the Lost Pearl pirate ship to its fleet just in time for Gasparilla. [Yacht StarShip]
    After years entertaining tourists in Virginia Beach, the Lost Pearl is settling into its new Tampa Bay home.
  10. A scooter rider navigates Platt Street on Friday morning during the calm before the storm — successive weekends of downtown Gasparilla parades. Scooter companies like Jump warn users it’s a violation of their rental agreement to operate one while under the influence. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    One company decided to pull its scooters Jan. 25 ‘out of an abundance of caution for riders and those participating in Gasparilla.’