Mother left infant in care of woman under influence involved in crash, deputies say

'She's a good mom,' attorney says

LAKE MARY, Fla. – The mother of a 3-month-old girl faces child neglect charges after deputies said she left her daughter in the care of a friend -- who was later arrested on suspicious of DUI and leaving the scene of a crash -- to allow the baby's mother to stay out and continue drinking, officials said.

According to court documents, Sierra Purcell, the baby's mother, and her friend, Katherine Alverio were drinking at Liam Fitzpatrick's Bar and Restaurant in Lake Mary Wednesday evening.

As the two were leaving, Purcell reportedly handed her child to Alverio to take while she continued to bar hop, according to officials.

About two hours after the two women had parted ways, Alverio was involved in a hit-and-run crash near the intersection of Lake Mary Boulevard and International Parkway, deputies said.

"This child had been put in this woman's care. She gets in a hit-and-run accident on Lake Mary Boulevard, leaves the scene, runs a red light. Finally, we're able to pull her over and once we do we discover she's almost three times the legal limit drunk. She has been smoking marijuana in this car," Seminole County Sheriff's Office public information officer Bob Kealing said.

Alverio initially told deputies she didn't have a child with her, and then said the child was her friends, according to the incident report.

Deputies said they called Purcell and asked if she knew where her child was, for fear Alverio may not have had permission to have the child with her. 

Purcell told deputies her daughter was home with her, but later changed her story and met deputies at the scene of the crash, authorities said.

The two women were arrested and booked into the Seminole County Jail. The grandmother of the 3-month-old girl was given custody of the infant.

Records show this isn't the first time Purcell has been arrested.

In 2013, she was charged with a misdemeanor for drug possession, according to criminal records. 

Purcell's attorney, David West spoke to the media after his client's first appearance Thursday. 

"We'll get set with the state attorney's office to see what's going on. Obviously, there's another defendant that has her side of the story, too, so we have to figure it all out and find out what happened," West said. "She's a good mom. She wants to get home and see her daughter."