A caregiver was arrested in Spring Hill on Thursday morning after leaving a disabled adult and two children alone for an extended period of time, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said today.
About 9 a.m. Thursday, deputies were sent to 3387 Irondale Ave. to conduct a welfare check after a family member said Donnamarie Hunter, 57, was not answering the phone and there were children and disabled adults at the home.
When they got to the home, deputies found no vehicles. When they looked in the windows, they saw two children in a bedroom. The children were upset and frightened and would not come to the door to allow the deputies inside. The deputies and a sergeant called to the scene kept talking with the children for a period of time.
After a while, Hunter came to the front door, telling deputies that she “had been at a friend’s house and had entered the home through the rear door.” Later, she told deputies that she “had been out for a walk.” Deputies saw she was wearing flip flops and questioned whether she would be wearing them to go walking. Hunter replied she has medical issues and can’t wear sneakers.
Deputies then asked Hunter about the location of her vehicle, and deputies said she told them she saw patrol cars near her residence and she “did not want to get in the way.”
Hunter told the deputies that she left the residence at 9 a.m. to the grocery store to get milk for the children. While there, she got more food for the weekend and ended up spending $180.
While deputies were speaking to Hunter inside the residence, they said a male came out of one of the bedrooms. The male had developmental and medical disabilities.
Deputies found Hunter is licensed and registered to operate the home as an assisted living facility, and that a female who is also developmentally disabled also lives in the home. The woman was at a center for the disabled.
Hunter was arrested for child neglect and taken to the Hernando County Detention Center. A Department of Children and Families caseworker found temporary housing for the two disabled persons that were living in the home and said she would be working with authorities to have Hunter’s license revoked.
The two children were turned over to their mother.