Winter Haven mother arrested after police find children alone at park

Winter Haven Police arrested a mother for leaving her children alone while she went to a food bank.  
 
Ashley Richardson, 28, is now charged with four counts of negligent child abuse.
 
According to police, an officer spotted the four children ages 8, 7, and 6 at Lake Maude Nature Park without adult supervision.
 
After sitting for a few minutes to see if an adult would show, the officer was waved over by the children.
 
She found an 8 year-old boy stuck in a swing designed for toddlers. His legs were caught between the seat divider.
 
The officer attempted to free the child, but was unable to do so. 
 
She contacted the Winter Haven Fire Department.  Personnel came and took the swing off of the frame ultimately freeing the child. 
 
For two and a half hours after the incident, the children continued to play without an adult.
 
Finally, after intense questioning, the children told the officer where they lived.
 
The officer made contact with Richardson. She stated she didn't think it would take so long at the food bank. It is still unclear when the children left their home to walk to the park or where the food bank Richardson went to was located.
 
"When she talked to the mother and asked her about the food bank, where is the food bank, where is this church, the mother kind of clammed up,” said Lakeland Police PIO Jamie Brown.  “So you can take that for what it’s worth and at this point she still has not told us where she went."
 
Action News talked to neighbors.  "Kids come down here, they're tempted to get in the water," said Adrianne Harris, a local mom.  "There are gators out here, I've seen them out here when I go fishing,” said Harris. 
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