A good Samaritan stopped traffic on Palm Avenue when she saw two young children get ready to walk into the street alone, one of them dragging a pillow, WPLG-Ch. 10 reports.
"I started panicking and I rolled down the window and I'm yelling, 'Stop, stop,' and of course, they can't hear. And traffic's just whizzing by them," said Susan Grace, a preschool teacher.
The 3-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl had climbed barefoot out of a minivan after their mom had passed out drunk in the driver's seat
Wednesday afternoon, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.
A Broward judge had harsh words Thursday morning for the children's mother, Brenda Lee Duclos
, 44. The Cooper City woman passed out in the gold Ford Windstar in her driveway while the engine was still running
, authorities said. After a couple of hours, the children left the vehicle and wandered nearly two miles
from their home.
At Duclos' first court appearance Thursday, Broward County Judge John Hurley scolded the mother and vowed to personally call the Department of Children & Families
to make sure officials were aware of how she endangered her children.
"Your children were found two miles away from you passed out in your driveway," Hurley said. "If that's not a danger to your children, then I don't know what is, ma'am, short of having a loaded gun with them.
When deputies arrived, Duclos refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test.
Duclos' husband, Joseph, who was at work at the time, was also upset about the accusations. He said nothing to defend his wife
while outside their home early Thursday afternoon.
" he said, placing the two children, who appeared to be in good health, into an SUV just a few yards away from the minivan. "She did a stupid thing."
Acknowledging difficulty in their relationship, Duclos' husband said he hopes something good comes from the accusations. "I hope it helps her," he said before driving off.
Brenda Duclos was on her way to pick up her eldest child from school when she passed out
in the van, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright. The younger children were trying to find their sister at her school when they left the minivan barefoot, she said.
Grace spotted the children and called police around 5 p.m., according to the arrest report. Meanwhile, Duclos' eldest child walked from her school to an uncle's nearby home when Duclos failed to pick her up
, Coleman-Wright said. The uncle got in touch with the deputies who were with the younger children, Coleman-Wright said.
From there, deputies found Duclos passed out in the driver's seat of the Windstar in her driveway, the report states.
Though Duclos was not driving when deputies found her, Florida statutes allow authorities to make an arrest on DUI charges in instances where a person suspected of being impaired is in physical control of a vehicle, such as sitting behind the wheel with the engine running or with the keys in the ignition.
The children remained in their father's custody Thursday, Coleman-Wright said.