Woman Arrested for Leaving Toddler in Car to Swim with Sharks in Ocean

A 41-year-old Florida woman, Allison Daugherty, has been charged with child neglect after allegedly leaving her two-year-old son unattended in a running vehicle. At the same time, she swam in the ocean, reportedly expressing a desire to “meet sharks.” The incident occurred near the Bokeelia Fishing Pier on Monday, September 11, at 10:30 a.m.

According to a witness, Daugherty parked her SUV near the pier, blasted the radio, and then plunged into the water. Approximately 20 minutes later, the same witness noticed a toddler crawling around inside the still-running vehicle, which had the air conditioning turned on. The witness promptly alerted the authorities.

While the witness was on the phone with 911, Daugherty was observed swimming further away from the pier. Emergency medical services and the Lee County Fire Department were dispatched to the scene.

A detective from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office was among the first to arrive. After ensuring the child was not in immediate distress, the detective monitored Daugherty’s movements in the water with the help of binoculars and EMS personnel.

Approximately 20 minutes later, the Boca Grande Marine Unit arrived on the scene. They made contact with Daugherty and brought her aboard their vessel. She was then taken to shore and detained.

Witnesses reported that Daugherty was swimming in an area where people were fishing. Despite warnings from onlookers about the presence of hooks and sharks in the water, Daugherty allegedly responded that she “wanted to get hooked” and was eager to “meet sharks.”

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office stated that the toddler was left alone in the vehicle for approximately 44 minutes. As of Wednesday morning, Daugherty remained in custody on a single charge of child neglect or leaving an unattended child in a motor vehicle for more than 15 minutes.