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The Nation

Fla. Child Services Worker Found Passed Out With Infant in Car

July 27, 2002|From Reuters

MIAMI — A Florida child welfare worker was arrested Friday after police found her passed out drunk in a car with a foster child in the back seat, authorities said.

Police in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables said they found the car stopped in the middle of a road with the engine running, the driver asleep and a crying 7-month-old girl strapped into a safety seat in the back. There was a half-empty bottle of rum in the car, police said.

The officers said they broke into the car, smelled alcohol, awoke the driver and tried to give her a sobriety test. "The defendant was unable to stand by herself," the officers wrote in their arrest report. The baby was unharmed and was turned over to state protective custody, police said.

Driver Miria Pronga, 56, was jailed on charges of child neglect and drunken driving with a passenger under age 18. Pronga was a caseworker for the state Department of Children & Families and had picked up the baby from her foster parents for a visit with her biological parents, police said.

The agency released a statement saying it fired Pronga after learning of her arrest.

Florida's Department of Children & Families was already under fire over the disappearance of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson. It took 15 months for state officials to realize she was missing.

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