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Niceville woman charged after leaving baby unattended in van for over 2 hours

Local woman arrested after allegedly leaving infant in running van for 2+ hours outside Goodwill while completing community service. Infant rescued by good Samaritan.

A Niceville woman was arrested Wednesday after allegedly leaving her infant unattended in a running van for over two hours while she was inside a local Goodwill store in Fort Walton Beach.

31-year-old Chanice Eppinger reportedly left the baby strapped in a car seat in the back of an unlocked, running van around 10:15 a.m. while she went inside the Goodwill store at 913 Beal Parkway to complete court-ordered community service hours.

  • According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, it wasn’t until 12:30 p.m. that a witness heard the baby crying and removed them from the van before calling 911.

“The child had been left alone in the vehicle for nearly two and a half hours before being discovered,” wrote the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in a statement. “Thankfully, a good Samaritan heard the infant’s cries and immediately took action by safely removing them from the van and calling emergency services.”

The baby was evaluated by EMS at the scene and determined to be unharmed, despite the van providing minimal cooling on the hot August day. According to the police report, “the temperature was documented as 86 degrees, but felt like 94 degrees due to 69% humidity.”

When Eppinger exited the Goodwill store and returned to the van, she allegedly provided false information to deputies about how long the baby was left unattended, according to the OCSO. However, video surveillance from the parking lot confirmed the lengthy timeframe.

Eppinger was arrested and charged with child neglect without great bodily harm. The OCSO reminds citizens to never leave children or pets alone inside vehicles, which can quickly overheat even on mild weather days.

One Response

  1. Good Samaritan serious have gone inside, found thee caregiver, and offered to keep watch. This individual was more interested is giving the appearance of being above reproach…a hero.

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Community Comments

“Would like to know this as well.”
“This is Awesome/ Thank You for Your Service Reuse an Recycle”
“Carolyn, there is two of them this year, the one at the fairgrounds is still on the 27th”
“I thought this was scheduled for April 27th at Fair grounds in FWB.”
“Is there a limit on the amount?”
“Couldn’t the tennis courts be used for Pickle Ball Courts?”
“How come we haven't heard about any charges or anything about the person who hit this lady ?”
“Stayed at the Calypso resort last week. Overran with immaturity. Teens were throwing beer bottles from the balcony and dog shit while kids were swimming in the pools below.”