GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – A local woman is accused of spending hours in a Green Cove Springs bar while her toddler sat in the car outside.
News4Jax has learned the Clay County Sheriff's Office has opened up a child endangerment investigation into the incident that happened Tuesday at Saloon 17. The Department of Children and Families is also investigating.
Surveillance video has gone viral after it was posted on Facebook by Brittany Moss, a bartender at Saloon 17, who said she served the woman and then tried to prevent the woman from getting behind the wheel.
Moss told News4Jax that the woman seen in the video trying to dance in a striped dress had been drinking to the point where she was concerned and offered to call the woman an Uber.
"She was getting on customers' nerves," Moss said. "She was hanging all over people. She was stumbling around, trying to make out with people."
Moss said the woman went outside to leave but her car wouldn't start. When patrons tried to help, Moss said, they were stunned to find a child inside. Moss said she believes the child was in there from when the woman came in about 4 p.m. to when she left about 10 p.m.
"I got outside and she's in her front seat bawling, crying. The back door is open," Moss said. "He's sweating so bad, face is red, screaming, crying. At this point, I'm saying, 'He's not OK.' I run inside to call 911."
That's when the woman got her car to start.
"She sees what I'm trying to do," Moss said. "So she slams the door, hauls butt out of here and goes southbound."
News4Jax was told the child, an 18- to 19-month-old boy, is OK and is under the care of relatives.
On Thursday, News4Jax spoke by phone with a woman who said she's the person in the video. She said the bartender's account is “very much twisted and it’s a bunch of lies." She then added, “Right now, my attorney told me not to talk to anybody.”
When asked about the child in the car, the line disconnected.
News4Jax also spoke with a man who said he's the woman's husband and his wife is pregnant.
"Her excuse was, last night, that she's been dealing with so many choices," he said. "I've only seen her like that one time before."
Moss said she couldn't tell whether the woman was pregnant, and pointed out that she never would have served her if she had known.
How to report suspected DUI
The Sheriff's Office released information as to how people can help deputies locate and investigate intoxicated drivers.
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcoholic beverages and/or narcotics is a misdemeanor offense per Florida State Statute, except when other conditions apply.
Deputy Christopher Padgett, Sheriff's Office spokesman, said "It is a very dangerous offense, not only for those involved, but for the community. We take these incidents seriously."
Padgett said the Sheriff's Office asks that anyone suspecting a person to be driving under the influence contact the agency immediately through our Communications Section.
"Details from the complainant are of the utmost importance on these incidents, so we ask that license plate numbers, precise vehicle descriptions and the drivers information be relayed when able. Other details like the direction the vehicle was last seen traveling, the location of that vehicle and further information is beneficial as well," Padgett said.