MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee mother accused in connection with an OWI incident in which her 4-year-old daughter was later found alone in a van at the city tow lot pleaded guilty Wednesday, March 20. She faced more than two decades in prison, but the plea deal could mean she'll spend less than a year behind bars.
Blair Springfield, 29, entered the plea to four of 10 charges filed against her:
- OWI, first offense with passenger under the age of 16
- Neglecting a child (harm did not occur and child under 6 or disability) -- two counts
- OWI, second offense with passenger under the age of 16
The remaining six charges were dismissed but read into the court record. Prosecutors recommended she spend roughly nine months in jail and remain on probation for three years. Under the deal, she would have the chance to visit her young children under supervision.
Springfield will be sentenced on April 30. The judge can follow prosecutors' recommendation -- or hand down a different sentence.
The incident happened on Nov. 12, 2018.
Springfield was taken into custody near 39th and Forest Home, after prosecutors said she passed out behind the wheel of a minivan. Springfield was interviewed by investigators, and prosecutors said she admitted she was driving the van on Nov. 12. She also admitted to drinking vodka before that.
Her adult passenger and baby were removed from the vehicle, but the 4-year-old was left in the back seat. Prosecutors said the child was not mentioned by her mother and also missed by officers. The 4-year-old was found in the van in the city tow lot the next morning. The 4-year-old told investigators "she was left in the van by herself." She said her mom left her in the van, and it was dark. She said her "mom's driving was crazy in the van" and she was asleep in the vehicle, and when she woke up, she was crying for her mom.
The tow truck driver spoke with FOX6 News and said he "felt really bad" after learning the 4-year-old girl had been left in the van overnight. The National Weather Service reported temperatures at Mitchell International Airport were around 25 degrees around midnight -- with a wind chill of 14 degrees. The temperature dropped to as low as 19 degrees with a wind chill of five degrees around 7 a.m. When the girl was found, the temperature had edged up to 22 degrees with a wind chill of nine degrees.
"Our protocol is, we can't go through the vehicle, so there is no need for me to look," said Curtis Wykle.
The incident happened just weeks after prosecutors said Springfield passed out in a McDonald's drive-thru with children and bottles of vodka in the car. She had to be revived with Narcan. The criminal complaint said a blood test revealed a blood alcohol concentration of .243.
The Milwaukee Police Department issued this statement shortly after the incident:
"The Milwaukee Police Department is grateful that the four year old involved in an incident at the tow lot on November 12, 2018 appears to be doing well. However, the fact that a four year old child was left overnight in a vehicle that this Department requested to tow is simply unacceptable. While the event remains under investigation, the Department does not take this incident lightly and will take whatever steps are necessary to prevent this situation from ever happening again.
The Department is reviewing the body camera, squad camera and other available video as part of the recently charged criminal investigation as well as an internal investigation of the MPD personnel involved. The Department recognizes there is a public demand for the body camera and squad camera footage relevant to this incident. Such release is pending the conclusions of the aforementioned investigations."