OCALA, FL (WKMG/CNN) – A 28-year-old Florida father was arrested in Ocala on suspicion of leaving his three children alone in a car for hours while he drank in a bar.
Joshua Delong was arrested early Thursday on three counts of child neglect.
“It was pretty scary,” said bar patron Heather Weiss.
Weiss found Delong’s three children, ages 5, 7, and 8, inside his car alone.
“When I was walking out someone said there’s kids in the car, there’s kids in the car,” Weiss said.
When Weiss found them, the kids had been screaming for their dad and honking the car horn.
“They had been here for a long time and they told me daddy does it a lot,” Weiss said.
The children had been in the car for four hours with the windows rolled up and the keys still in the ignition.
For Weiss, a mother herself, it was hard to believe.
“It just kinda hit me that when your looking at a kid and there sitting there crying you do what you can,” Weiss said. “You see they’re tired, they’re sweaty, you wanna do the right thing and get them out of the situation.”
Weiss’s boyfriend, a bouncer at Dr. B’s, found Delong and she says he, along with two other bouncers stopped him as he tried to drive off, intoxicated, with the kids in the car.
That’s when police say another person at the bar, upset after hearing what happened, hit Delong.
“All I know is he got hit and was on the ground, there was no fight,” Weiss said.
Delong told police that several patrons dragged him out of the bar and beat him.
Delong said his wife dropped the kids off in the car while he was at the bar, but she denied that claim, saying Delong has had custody of the children for the last five days, according to police.
The entire incident shocked business owners nearby like Kathy Ridin, “I can’t imagine why would anyone leave three children in a car it doesn’t make any sense.”