POLK COUNTY — The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 36-year-old Winter Haven woman on Thursday, July 11, three days after she was found allegedly passed out from cocaine while inside a hot car with two small children. Marsha Forrester, who was pregnant, was rushed to a hospital where a successful emergency C-section was performed to remove and treat the baby.

During an interview with a detective at the hospital, Forrester allegedly admitted that she had used cocaine several times over the two days prior to passing out. She stated that she picked up the two children (both under 5 years old) in Lakeland then stopped at a Circle K store at 1108 Spirit Lake Road in Winter Haven. She told deputies that she left the two children in the car while she went into the store to use the cocaine, then got back into the car and drove across the parking lot to the Publix store and passed out.

A passerby directed Polk County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Lance Meachum to the car, which was running with the air conditioning off. Forrester was slumped over the wheel and the two children were inside, crying and sweating. The temperature at that time was 90 degrees, with a heat index of 99 degrees.

Meachum pulled Forrester from the car and recognized symptoms of narcotic overdose, so he administered two doses of Narcan. The children were uninjured.

“I’m both furious and heartbroken about this. Two small children and a baby who was due to be born soon were put into serious danger, all because this woman wanted to get high. She chose cocaine over the safety of these little ones,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Following her release from the hospital, Forrester was arrested and charged with two counts of negligent child abuse without great bodily harm (third-degree felony). She was booked in at the Polk County Jail.

Forrester’s newborn child remains intubated and in critical condition.

Forrester’s criminal history includes one prior felony charge (robbery) and two misdemeanors (prostitution and battery).

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