Woman arrested for abandoning children, other charges

On June 14th, 2022, at approximately 9:45 p.m., Harrison County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch began receiving multiple 911 calls regarding a female walking in the eastbound lanes of traffic on I-20 near the 619-mile marker. 

HCSO Patrol Deputies and Texas DPS Troopers responded and located the woman, identified as Fantasia Martinez, 26, of Marshall. 

“Martinez appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and possibly narcotics due to her erratic behavior and difficulty making complete sense of the situation,” said a press release from Harrison County Sheriff’s Office. 

While completing an interview with Martinez, she informed Deputies “her vehicle had broken down, and both her children were still in the vehicle.” 

Due to proximity to the Interstate, the situation for Deputies and Troopers escalated concern for the welfare of the children. At that time, Martinez was detained and secured into the backseat caged area of an HCSO patrol unit. After a brief search of the immediate area, Martinez’s vehicle was located at the end of Buck Sherrod Road South of I-20, which is close to where she was initially discovered. The vehicle appeared to have crashed through multiple road barricades and come to rest at a tree. Deputies say the engine was still running, and an infant was in the backseat. The Deputy had to break out a vehicle window to rescue the infant from the vehicle. 

“While the Deputy attempted to rescue Martinez’s child, she escaped custody from the patrol unit. The Deputy had to divert his attention from checking the child’s condition and regain control of Martinez. Martinez continued to resist, but eventually, the Deputies successfully regained control and re-secured her,” said the release. “Once Martinez was re-secured, she began asking about her second child.”

Deputies reported seeing two infant car seat carriers in the wrecked vehicle, and Deputies and Troopers had reason to believe that a second child was missing. 

HCSO immediately requested assistance from surrounding Fire Departments for personnel to assist in searching for the missing infant. Within 35 minutes, approximately 60 first responders were on the ground coordinating a detailed, methodical search of the area. 

“While the search was being completed, an address was received where the second infant might be located. The address was where Martinez had recently moved and near where the search was being completed.”

Deputies immediately responded to that address, forced entry, and located the second infant alone and uninjured. Child Protective Services were contacted, and both infants were turned over to their custody. 

One HCSO Deputy was treated by EMS for heat exhaustion during the extensive search but was released at the scene. 

Martinez was transported to the Harrison County Jail, where she was charged with two counts of Abandoning/Endangering a Child, Imminent Danger or Bodily Injury; Driving While Intoxicated w/ Child Passenger; Escape and Resisting Arrest/Transport 

“Thank you to the Deputies, DPS, ESDs, and Marshall Fire Department for their efforts in locating these children. It is heartbreaking to know that some children have to live in these conditions, but I am glad no lives were lost,” said Sheriff B.J. Fletcher.

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