Police Identify Enfield Girl’s Day Care Provider

Enfield — Police have identified the Lockehaven Road resident who was the day care provider responsible for a 4-year-old girl who died after her jacket became snagged on a branch, causing her to choke and stop breathing.

Police said Thursday that the incident occurred at the home of Mary Ellen Burritt.

Burritt registered a day care business named Lothlorien Day Care LLC with the state in 2005, according to New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office records. The business dissolved in 2007, according to the records.

State law allows a home-based day care to operate without a license if all the children are related to the caregiver, or if no more than three of the children are unrelated to the provider.

Police have said Burritt was caring for five children to whom she was not related on Monday, when the 4-year-old, Willa Shine Clark was injured.

State officials said they would issue a “cease operating” letter to Burritt, ordering her to come into compliance.

A woman leaving Burritt’s driveway on Thursday afternoon declined to comment and asked a reporter to leave.

Willa died at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center late Wednesday afternoon.

Police said the accident occurred after Burritt went inside to tend to another child while Willa and others remained outside, some 75 to 100 yards away from the house.

“There’s definitely no criminal intent here,” Enfield Police Chief Richard Crate Jr. said on Thursday. Crate said he plans to meet next week with the Grafton County Attorney’s Office and with the state Child Care Licensing Unit.

Investigators will consider ways in which the incident might have been prevented. The state Medical Examiner’s Office is looking at the jacket Willa was wearing, for example.

“We don’t want to miss anything that could prevent something like this happening in the future,” Crate said.

Around town on Thursday, Enfield residents were reeling from the news of the girl’s death.

“I’m sorry for the parents and the lady watching the kids,” said Ruth Bassani, grandmother of four and owner of Babies 2 Tots & More on Route 4, a children’s clothing store. “It’s terrible.”

Down the road at Family Pharmacy, owner Ed McGee said, “day care’s a necessity for working parents.”

He said Enfield is a small town and that he knows the Clark family.

“I can’t think of much worse happening,” he said.

A memorial service for Willa is scheduled for Saturday at noon at Community Lutheran Church in Enfield.

News staff writer Alex Hanson contributed to this report. Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.