A Spring Hill mother was arrested after hitting a man with her car, then getting into a hit-and-run crash, all while her young daughter, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Troopers said the incident started when a man saw Jessica Lynn Watson, 31, at a Sunoco gas station, 17943 U.S. Highway 41, about 8 p.m. Tuesday. He said Watson was stumbling while walking around her 2003 Ford Explorer.
The man said he saw a small child in the car without a seatbelt on. The child was later identified as Watson's 4-year-old daughter.
Watson bought a four-pack of beer and returned to the vehicle. The man confronted Watson and told her not to drive with the child in the car while she was drinking. He also called law enforcement to inform them of the situation.
Watson told the man she didn't want police to get involved, so she handed her keys to the man and said she would call her boyfriend for a ride.
The man agreed to the plan and hung up with police. Watson then grabbed the keys back, got in her vehicle and started her engine, troopers said. The man got behind her vehicle to prevent her from leaving.
Watson told the man to move, and the man told her to not drive. Watson then struck the man with the vehicle, troopers said.
Watson then drove away south on U.S. 41.
The man said he then heard tires squeal and a car crash. Watson had lost control of the Explorer, which overturned and struck a tree, troopers said.
Witnesses on the scene said they helped Watson and the girl get out of the Explorer. They said Watson then grabbed the child and ran from the scene.
Troopers said they found the beer Watson had purchased in the vehicle, as well as multiple bottles of liquor, one of which had been opened and partially consumed.
Pasco County deputies used a K-9 unit to track Watson back to her home in the 20300 block of Old Somerset Acres Lane.
During questioning by troopers and deputies, Watson admitted she had been drinking and had crashed the Explorer. She said she didn't wait for authorities at the crash scene because she was afraid Child Protective Services would take her child.
She denied striking the man at the gas station.
Watson has been charged with child neglect, DUI, DUI with property damage, leaving the scene of an accident with property damage and aggravated battery. Bail was set at $16,500.