Five children, ages 1-5, found clothed in only dirty diapers trying to cross Florida highway

Hernando County Jail booking photo

Five young children, ages 1 to 5, were only wearing soiled diapers when a motorist stopped them as they tried to cross a highway by themselves.

The children were attempting to cross the busy highway to get to state park in Florida, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, deputies were dispatched to U.S. 19 in front of a Motel 6 located at 6172 Commercial Way.

Dispatchers received a call from a concerned motorist who had observed five very small children attempting to cross the highway to get to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. The motorist was able to stop the children before they entered into the lanes of traffic.

The children were too young to tell deputies their names or who their parents were. All of the children were wearing only diapers, which were heavily soiled, according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies say the youngest child, a female, had a severe rash on various parts of her body.

Hernando County Fire Rescue units were called to the scene to examine the child. Paramedics said the rash appeared to be several weeks old.

After being on scene for over 30 minutes, deputies say they were approached by Samantha McCarthy. McCarthy went to the lobby of the Motel 6 because the children she was caring for were missing. McCarthy told deputies that she had been sleeping and did not realize the children had left the room. She said the door was locked and she had no idea how they could have gotten out.

Deputies learned that the ages of the children were 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.

Deputies asked McCarthy about the skin infection-rash on the youngest child. She said it had been there for two-to-three days and had not been treated, but she planned to seek treatment later that day.

Deputies confirmed that McCarthy had no mode of transportation and had made no appointment to have the child seen by a physician.

Deputies contacted the Department of Children and Families (DCF) who conducted a check of the motel room and found there was not any food for the children and only minimal clothing.

Due to the severity of the skin infection-rash, the 1-year-old child was transported to a local hospital for immediate treatment.

DCF took custody of the children.

Samantha Lynn McCarthy, 24, was arrested and charged with Child Neglect. Her bond was set at $5,000.

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