Sheriff: Twin infants found abandoned after Texas interstate crash; mother arrested

Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 10:55 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 12:19 PM EDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, Texas (KLTV/Gray News) - Members of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office in Texas said they found infant twins after they were allegedly abandoned by their mother following a crash on I-20.

According to a Facebook post Wednesday from the sheriff’s office, drivers on I-20 eastbound said overnight that a woman was running into traffic. A Department of Public Safety trooper found her about four miles away and said she appeared to be intoxicated.

“She’d come out of the woods. She was belligerent. They immediately felt she was under the influence of something. Things just weren’t right, stories weren’t adding up,” said Harrison County Sheriff Brandon Fletcher.

A deputy arrived, and the woman, identified as Fantasia Martinez, 26, was placed under arrest and in the back of a patrol vehicle, the department said in a news release.

“She was saying she had a child she couldn’t find. Of course, that heightens awareness. She kept saying another child, another child. Come to find out it’s twins, both 6 months old,” Fletcher said.

After a frantic two-hour search, deputies did find a vehicle crashed out at a dead-end on the nearby south service road of I-20. The car appeared to have driven through the end of multiple road barricades, the engine was still running and it had stopped, they said.

A deputy found an infant child in the vehicle, and the window had to be broken to get the child out. Emergency medical services were called to care for them.

“One child-seat, one child. One’s gone. We didn’t know whether she took one child in the woods and couldn’t find it. We couldn’t make sense of her story,” the sheriff said.

The release stated Martinez then escaped custody from the patrol unit, and the deputy had to divert his attention from checking the child’s condition to regain control of Martinez. Deputies successfully re-secured her and she then asked about her second child.

Responders had found a second, empty child seat in the car, and they called for backup to help search, with as many as 60 first responders assisting.

After a two-hour search, Fletcher sent units to Martinez’s residence on a hunch.

“When they arrived, they could see a car-seat in the living room sitting on a coffee table. We forced entry and sure enough, the baby was sitting in a car-seat on the coffee table. It had been left at home alone,” he said.

“Child Protective Services were contacted, and both infants were turned over to their custody,” the sheriff’s office stated.

“Everybody knew we had a mission and we had to find the kid. We weren’t going home without the kid,” the sheriff said.

Martinez was charged with crimes including abandoning or endangering a child - imminent danger or bodily injury, driving while intoxicated with a child passenger, and resisting arrest.

One deputy was treated and released on the scene by EMS for heat exhaustion.

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