A 45-year-old mother in Gainesville faces child neglect and drug charges after four children said they jumped out of the car she was driving because she was drunk, according to the Gainesville Police Department.
According to police, four 11-year-old children — Woodworth’s son and three of his friends — entered a Steak ‘n Shake at 3714 SW 42nd St. claiming Woodworth was drunk and in fear they jumped out of the car she was driving.
“It was like a little girl screaming for help,” said Kenisha Drayton, who witnessed the incident. “We really didn’t see what was going on, but all we heard was someone screaming.”
Josh Kramer said he helped the kids — two boys and two girls — at the Steak ‘N Shake. He was there eating when the children ran inside.
“One of the boys told me his mom, they just left Ruby Tuesday, and his mom was really drunk and swerving all over the road,” Kramer said. “She hit a pole and broke a mirror off her car. They came to a stop. When they came to a stop, the kids jumped out of the car and ran into the restaurant.”
Kramer said he immediately called 911 and while he was on the phone with a dispatcher, Woodworth showed up and was screaming at the children, telling them to come with her.
“The kids took off running around the restaurant. She started following them around the restaurant,” Kramer said. “I finally got them back up front and told them to stay on the sidewalk, police would be here in a second and they didn’t need to be scared. I was helping them out.”
Police said when an officer arrived at the restaurant, the children ran to the officer for safety.
“They were not in a parking space, so we could only assume that her driving was so bad at that point that she couldn’t even make it into the parking space,” GPD Officer Ben Tobias said. “We are very glad that the children were not hurt.”
Police said the children told them that during the day Woodworth drove them from their home in Interlachen to Gainesville, where they went to several locations, including a Chinese restaurant, a bowling alley — where Woodworth drank two pitchers of beer — and Ruby Tuesday, where she had four drinks. Police confirmed the purchase of the drinks with charge receipts. The children said they roamed the mall unsupervised while Woodworth was at Ruby Tuesday.
Officers said Woodworth refused to comply with them and interfered with the investigation when they first made contact with her. They also said she showed signs of extreme impairment.
Police said a search of Woodworth’s vehicle revealed about 2 grams of marijuana and a marijuana pipe under the driver’s seat.
Woodworth was arrested and officers notified the Department of Children and Families. Police said Woodworth’s son is with relatives and the boy’s three friends were returned to their parents.
“Hopefully she gets the help that she needs and the punishment that she deserves to put somebody’s kids and her own kids behind that kind of dangerous situation right there,” said Travis Smith, who witnessed the incident. “I’ll pray for her.”