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Children saved from walking into traffic; father accused of child neglect

Anthony Proenza Jimenez says he fell asleep while watching kids

CASSELBERRY, Fla. – A man has been arrested after officials from the Casselberry Police Department said his two young children were found trying to cross State Road 436 alone just after 10:30 p.m.

Anthony Proenza Jimenez was arrested early Tuesday morning on two charges of child neglect without great bodily harm.

The arrest reports said on Monday night, the two boys, who are 4 and 2, were standing on the side of the road, past the sidewalk. Police said the 2-year-old was naked from the waist down and that one of the children had a black eye. Both parents later told police the black eye was from the child falling down on tiled floor after the area had been mopped.

The area of S.R. 436 where the apartment is located, at the intersection of Lake Howell Road, is comprised of nine total lanes of traffic. In the report, police said had the children not been stopped, they could "possibly have been struck by a passing motorist causing certain death."

Before they could cross, the kids were stopped by two good Samaritans who were walking along the road.

"They were standing right at the very edge of the road getting ready to run across," one of the good Samaritans is heard saying in police body cam video.

The older boy told officers that he believed his father was at the 7-Eleven across the street and that his mother was at a nearby Walmart store. Officers later discovered she was actually at her job at a nearby restaurant.

Police said the apartment the children live in at the Marbeya Club Condominiums, was initially found empty with the door left wide open.

"I just know the door was wide open and [the child] pointed right at that one," one of the good Samaritans said.

Proenza Jimenez eventually arrived at the apartment. He is heard in the video telling an officer to "knock that [expletive] off" when the officer took a picture of the child's black eye.

Police said Proenza Jimenez gave conflicting answers about what happened, first saying he was searching for the children in a neighboring complex and then that he had fallen asleep while with the children at that complex's pool. He also told investigators that one of the children had tried to cross S.R. 436 alone before, but that he had stopped the child in time.

When the children's mother, Proenza Jimenez's wife arrived home from work, she told officers that she was last aware of the children staying with their father at the pool when she left for work around 6 p.m., according to the arrest report. 

Officers said they arrested Proenza Jimenez based on the fact that the children had been left alone for more than two hours and "the significant danger they were placed in."

While police were transporting him, Proenza Jimenez said the arresting officer was "ruining his family" by taking him to jail.

The Department of Children and Families was notified. Police said the children were left in the custody of their mother.