PLANT CITY, Fla. -- Deputies arrested a man they say left three young children on the side of a busy road on Christmas night. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says 54-year-old James Williams was in a crash along Turkey Creek Road in Plant City, fled the scene on foot, leaving the children in a state of "panic."
Family members say the children are 7, 10 and 11 years old. They say Williams is the great-uncle of the children. The entire family had just finished celebrating Christmas in Tampa, with many of the cars packed with toys. Some of the kids got into Williams' car to drive back to Plant City.
They didn't realize there was an accident until deputies called.
On top of leaving the children, witnesses and family members said he had the children help him evade deputies by having them assist in hoisting him over a wall surrounding a neighborhood.
"They started crying and screaming and yelling for help," Edwin Rodriguez, who witnessed the aftermath of the crash, said. "I could tell he was definitely trying to cover himself, take care of himself, before the kids."
Williams has a lengthy criminal history. The Florida Department of Corrections shows he has been in and out of prison several times for drugs and theft.
Family members said they do not plan to bail him out of jail.