A Florida mother has been arrested and charged with child neglect after allegedly leaving her 8-month-old baby and 2-year-old toddler unattended in her running and unlocked SUV while she visited a bar.
The incident occurred in West Melbourne, Florida, where police officers discovered the children in the backseat of the vehicle.
The woman, identified as 33-year-old Jamie Leigh Gunn, was taken into custody and booked at the Brevard County Jail on a single felony count of child neglect without great bodily harm. She was subsequently released on bond the following day.
According to the West Melbourne Police Department, the officer on routine patrol found the two young children asleep in the SUV, with the vehicle’s doors left unlocked and the engine running.
Gunn, who is the registered owner of the vehicle, was found inside Penny Annie’s Bar in West Melbourne with a friend.
The police investigation revealed that Gunn had been inside the bar for at least 20 minutes, during which time she allegedly showed no regard for her children, who were left unattended in the car.
“When Gunn learned law enforcement was outside with her vehicle, she was more concerned about going to jail, than the welfare of her children,” the police department stated.
Gunn’s two children were entrusted to a family member, and the Department of Children and Families was notified to conduct a follow-up investigation. Gunn’s arrest is not her first encounter with the law.
According to police, Gunn has a criminal history in Florida that includes charges of contempt of court, forgery, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license. Her most recent legal trouble prior to this incident occurred in July 2022 when she was arrested on a failure-to-appear charge related to one of her previous cases.
The legal consequences and potential dangers involved in leaving young children unattended in a vehicle are significant, especially in extreme conditions such as heat or cold, which can put their lives at risk.
Child neglect charges can result in serious legal penalties, including potential fines, imprisonment and loss of custody.