YULEE, Fla. – A barefoot 3-year-old wandering in a Yulee road Monday afternoon is safe, but her parents are in jail charged with felony child neglect by the Nassau County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies received a call about 2:50 p.m. from a school bus driver who almost struck the child on Miner Road. The driver picked up the toddler and took the girl to Yulee Middle School. The girl had a soiled diaper and strong smell of feces.
"If she had not come along when she did, who knows what may have happened," Sheriff Bill Leeper said. "She could have saved the child’s life."
Deputies went door to door along Miner Road to locate the child's parents. The Sheriff's Office said an 8-month-old child with a soiled diaper was inside the same home where the toddler lived.
According to the report, the mother, Nina Whorton, 23, said she last saw the child 7 and 9 a.m. when she went to sleep. She didn't wake up about 3 p.m. The father, Austin Philman, also 23, told deputies he was also sleeping and thought the mother was taking care of the children.
The Sheriff's Office report noted that there was an unsecured gun in a nightstand and there was no food for the children in the home.
The Department of Children & Families was called to conduct its own investigation. The children were released to their grandmother.
The parents were arrested on a charge of child neglect without great bodily harm and booked into the Nassau County Jail.
Philman worked in food service at Yulee Middle School, across the street from the dirt road where the family lived. The school said it wouldn't discuss him due to the investigation, but told News4Jax they were not rushing to judgment.