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Charlotte County father accused of leaving 4-year-old home alone to attend DUI class

A Charlotte County man faces a child neglect charge after deputies said he left his 4-year-old child at home while he went to a DUI class.

Deputies said an Englewood resident on her way to work Saturday morning discovered a young child sitting alone in front of a business. When she went to talk to him, he began to cry. She tried asking him questions about the situation, and he attempted to run away but she was able to calm him down and call 911.

When deputies arrived, the child said that when he woke up, his father was gone so he decided to go for a walk. He mentioned that he lived in a blue house with a gold van and that his father was away at school, leading deputies to search the neighborhood for the house the child described.

The Department of Children and Families responded and helped identify the child’s father as Eric T. Sickler, 32.

Deputies attempted to make contact at the home located on Tramore Avenue in Englewood but arrived to find the door unsecured with no one inside.

Shortly after the father came home from DUI school in Venice, deputies returned to the Tramore Avenue home. Sickler stated he had searched everywhere for the child but was unable to find him.

After interviewing Sickler, he was arrested for child neglect without great bodily harm for failing to provide the care, supervision, and necessities to maintain a safe and healthy environment.

“We would like to thank the community for coming together to assist with the safety and well-being of this child. For sharing any information you had, for your concern, and for the generous woman who was in front of a deputy in the McDonald’s drive-thru who paid for a Happy Meal, unknowingly for this child,” CCSO said.

The sheriff’s office said the boy’s mother told deputies that her ex-husband is a Marine with PTSD and she doesn’t believe Sickler ever hurt their son. The child is now in her care, deputies said.

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