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Baby in stroller rescued from road

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

The woman pushed her baby stroller out of the Bridge Lounge Cafe and into traffic on Alt. U.S. 19 Monday afternoon, causing cars to swerve out of the way, witnesses said.

Then, they said, she fell down and the stroller carrying her 1-year-old son slipped from her grasp. It started rolling down the bridge that crosses the Anclote River.

Lounge patron George Diamantes caught the stroller and persuaded Jayne Marie Mansfield, 35, to get out of the road. The child, whose name was not released, was not hurt, police said.

"He wasn't crying," said Diamantes, 46, of Tarpon Springs. "He just kept looking at me like, "Hey, help me.' "

Tarpon Springs police charged Mansfield with child neglect, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Police said Mansfield, of 13612 Peace Blvd., in the Pasco County part of Spring Hill, was already intoxicated when she pushed the stroller into the Bridge Lounge Cafe about 3:35 p.m. Witnesses said she seemed fine until she ordered a Bloody Mary and spilled it all over the bar.

"When she got up to leave, she just fell over," said bartender April Kingsbury.

Minutes later, without having had a drink, Mansfield staggered out of the bar and began pushing her son in his stroller down the middle of the road, police said. She was there for more than five minutes as cars swerved around her.

"We tried to get her to sit down for a while, but she wouldn't listen," Diamantes said. When she didn't respond, he and another customer went into the road to get her.

"She was out there hitchhiking," he said. "She was really endangering that child."

At one point, Kingsbury said, Mansfield fell and let go of the stroller, which began to roll down the bridge that goes over the Anclote River.

Kingsbury said she called the police "because I have kids" and police arrested Mansfield about 3:45 p.m.

Mansfield had an open can of Budweiser and two unopened cans of Busch with her when she was taken into custody, police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Young said. She had been smoking marijuana and had a blood-alcohol level of .248 percent, more than three times the level at which Florida law presumes a person to be impaired, police said.

Mansfield, who has a long record of arrests and convictions for drug possession and alcohol-related offenses, was being held at Pinellas County Jail on Tuesday afternoon in lieu of $10,000 bail. Her son was taken into protective custody by the state Department of Children and Families, Young said.

Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichetsptimes.com or (727) 771-4307.

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