Erratic driver arrested with drugs, kid in backseat

- Sarasota County Sheriff's deputies arrested a woman after getting 911 calls that she was driving erratically on U.S. 41 in Sarasota. Once she was off the road, first responders realized she had a young child in the backseat, whom they say she'd passed a pill bottle to in an attempt to hide it.

Witnesses say they saw 34-year-old Shayna Delaney falling asleep at the wheel, throwing her hands in the air and tapping the brakes Monday afternoon. Had it not been for their quick reactions, SCSO says this could've had a much worse ending.

Michael Varley was sitting at a red light when another driver caught his attention. "She seemed kind of out of the loop," Varley said. "And I'm watching her and she's going, but she keeps tapping the brake, almost like a stop and go type thing."

After he said the woman made a few more stops, even blocking traffic at one point, he decided to follow.

"You could just see her. Her head is just bobbing back and forth, back and forth," Varley said.

The Sheriff's Office had already gotten a few 911 calls by the time Delaney pulled into the Wells Fargo near U.S. 41 and Proctor Road.

"I got out of the car and went up to the window and I see she's just completely passed out in the driver's seat," Varley said. "So, I bang on the window. She jumps up not really knowing what's going on. She rolls down the window. I'm yelling at her, at this point, telling her to put the car in park because I see she's clearly not okay to drive."

Then, he heard a little voice. There was a 5-year-old boy in the backseat. "Unfortunately, he was pretty calm. It almost seems like he has been through it before," Varley said.

But when first responders arrived, there was another concerning sight.

"The woman had passed a small prescription bottle to a 5-year-old child in the backseat and asked the child to hide it," said Kaitlyn Perez, Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Community Affairs Director. "Very disappointing."

Inside the bottle, deputies found .3 grams of methamphetamine and two straws consistent with drug use. Delaney was arrested. The child was given to relatives.

This is just one in a series of recent troubling cases of drug arrests involving children. In the last month and a half in Sarasota County, there have been three separate incidents of adults under the influence, found unconscious behind the wheel, with kids in tow. Perez said it's part of a nationwide drug problem.

"To respond to a call for service where there's someone who should not be in control of a vehicle and then to find a small child, a helpless child in the backseat, is really upsetting," Perez said. "This could've been a lot worse. I think it goes back to, if you see something, say something, being a good samaritan and being aware."

Varley is actually a recovering addict, himself. He's thankful he spotted trouble before anyone got hurt.

"I figure, any normal citizen or person driving around would see something like that and hopefully do the same thing I did," Perez said.

Delaney is charged with felony Child Neglect without Great Bodily Harm, Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Narcotic Equipment.

She has prior arrests in Sarasota County including in December 2016 when she was charged by the Venice Police Department with Child Neglect, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Narcotic Equipment, and two counts of Resisting Arrest.

Delaney remains in jail without bond. 

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