A 28-year-old Marion County woman has been charged with DUI and child neglect after crashing into a tree with her two young children inside her car, including an autistic 2-year-old boy who was sitting on her lap.
Ocala police arrived late Saturday at the intersection of Southwest 10th Street and Southwest 27th Avenue to find Erica Peluso, 28, trying to remove her 6-year-old child from the back seat of her Chevy Malibu, which was severely damaged after hitting the tree.
Police said a teenager who witnessed the crash, 18-year-old Ashton Johns, was holding Peluso's 2-year-old, whom Peluso said was autistic. Johns said the 2-year-old was in Peluso's lap at the time of the crash.
According to a police report, Peluso's two sons received head injuries from the crash, and one was bleeding profusely and inconsolable. One of the children was transported to Munroe Regional Medical Center, where he received three staples to close a head laceration.
Police said Peluso's breath smelled of alcohol and was unsteady as she walked around the vehicle. One officer said Peluso made "awkward statements" about one of her sons putting his bloodied hands on the car, including, "I just had the car washed."
Peluso was arrested after police said she failed a field sobriety test. Police said Peluso's blood later tested for three times the legal limit.
She is currently out of jail after being locked up in Marion County on a bond totaling $4,500. The Florida Department of Children and Families has begun an investigation.
Right now, the children remain with the mother.