Polk sheriff: Pregnant woman overdosed in hot car with 2 children inside

Polk County deputies say they arrested a pregnant woman they found inside a car with two children, pregnant, and overdosing on cocaine.

Polk County Fire Rescue Paramedic Lance Meachum recalled Monday afternoon's scene in a Winter Haven Publix parking lot. He had just stopped there for lunch.

"When I started knocking on the window trying to get her attention, trying to arouse her, the kids were smacking her in the face trying to wake her up," Meachum said. "I was waved down by a bagger from Publix, and he said that a bystander had stopped him, noticing there was a female slumped over at the wheel."

The paramedic approached the car and found 36-year-old Marsha Forrester passed out behind the wheel with a two and 3-year-old inside. The windows were rolled up and the temperature outside was 99 degrees. It's estimated they were inside the vehicle for about 30 minutes before help arrived.

"It looked like they were in obvious distress, sweating profusely, crying, very upset," Meachum said.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Forrester stopped at a Circle K in Winter Haven, went in to use cocaine, then got back into her car and drove across the parking lot to Publix and passed out.

When Meachum approached the car, he says the woman showed signs of a possible overdose, so Meachum ran back to his truck for Narcan, something he doesn't carry daily, but just happened to have with him that day.

"I administered it to the patient, and within three minutes she became responsive," he said.

Her baby was delivered by emergency C-section, according to the sheriff, who said Forrester was 38 weeks pregnant.

Forrester, who was arrested Thursday and admitted to detectives she cocaine. She said she had used cocaine in the past, but had never passed out from using it, detectives said.

"Was it bad cocaine or was it more powerful cocaine?" Judd asked. "At the end of the day, she almost killed three children that were in her custody."

The infant remains in critical condition at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital.

"The baby needs our prayers, and we certainly hope he recovers," Judd said.

The two and three-year-old were placed with family members. Judd says this the Department of Children and Families has been contacted.

Forrester had her first appearance Friday afternoon. She faces three felony charges of child neglect; one for each child. Her bond is set at $30,000.