KISSIMMEE, Fla. – A man and a woman face charges of child neglect after leaving their kids home alone while they went to work, sheriff’s deputies said Friday.
The children, ages 6 and 8, started a fire at the house, which tipped off authorities to the situation, according to a news release from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department.
Just before 3:10 p.m., officials with the Sheriff’s Department and Osceola County Fire Rescue learned of a blaze at a home on Nancy Court. Before they arrived, they spoke with a neighbor who said she drove by the residence and saw smoke, deputies said. The neighbor also told officials she spotted two children near the front door.
She motioned for the kids to come to her, but they retreated back inside the home to get dressed, the woman said to deputies.
So the neighbor ran into the house and brought the kids outside, making sure they escaped.
The children told the woman their father was on his way home from work. The dad ended up getting back to the house about 3:30 p.m., saying he had left the kids with their mother, according to the news release.
Deputies identified the parents as Jonathan Lopez-Banos, 30, and Rosmarie Medina-Arroyo, 36.
Lopez-Banos had departed for work at noon, deputies said. He was unable to arrive back home before Medina-Arroyo had to go to her place of employment. Medina-Arroyo returned about 6:15 p.m., officials said.
The kids told deputies they were playing with a lighter when they lit a cup on fire and placed it in a drawer. This wasn’t the first time they were left home alone by their parents, the children told officials.
Both parents were arrested, and the kids were put into the custody of the Department of Children and Families.
The children suffered minor injuries, but didn’t require hospitalization.
"The kids were home alone, I guess,” neighbor Angelina Oquendo told News 6. “I mean, obviously, we didn't see neither one of the parents, but like I said, at this point, those parents are always in the house with them kids. They are never alone like this. This is why it shocks us — these kids are never alone. They are great parents."
Oquendo defended the parents.
"It's heartbreaking to know that you are coming home from work, you are shocked, you are devastated, you are crying, you are finding out about this and then you end up in handcuffs when you are a great parent,” Oquendo said. “That sucks."
According to the Osceola County jail website, Lopez-Banos and Medina-Arroyo posted their $1,000 bond and have been released from jail.
News 6 stopped by their home Saturday morning, but no one answered the door.
The sheriff's office said the case is now up to the State Attorney's Office and DCF.