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Man charged with child neglect after 4-year-old found walking along roadway

Posted at 8:11 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 20:11:31-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY — A Charlotte County man is in jail after leaving his 4-year-old child at home for hours.

The boy ended up leaving the house and walking almost half a mile before someone found him and called the sheriff’s office.

Charlotte County deputies say a person spotted the 4-year-old boy walking all alone along North Access Road last Saturday. All he was wearing was a bathing suit.

“In this case the child is safe, thanks to the actions of those in the community," said Deputy 1st Class Cesar Nova.

Nova did not respond to the scene in this case, but he's a school resource officer, and he deals with kids all the time. He said the person who found the boy did the right thing and took him to the Englewood Market gas station nearby, then called the Sheriff’s Office.

“A lot of people are afraid of calling 9-1-1 or, because they think they may be misusing 9-1-1, or they don’t know who to contact. Make sure that you call someone if it appears that the child is in distress," said Nova.

But when deputies arrived, they faced a new problem: figuring out where the boy lived and who he belonged to. When they asked him where his house was, he simply pointed down North Access Road and said that way.

Deputies did eventually track down his house, and his father who was supposed to be looking after him. 32-year-old Eric Sickler was at a class for his recent conviction of driving under the influence, and left his son at home alone. Sickler is now facing one count of child neglect.

“We definitely want to tell the community out there that there are laws that are in place, and it is meant to keep you and your children safe," said Nova.

The boy’s mother eventually came to pick him up. The report says she told deputies she and Sickler had recently divorced, and that he is a former marine who suffers from PTSD and problems with alcohol.

Nova said this case ended the best way it could have, and he wants to encourage people to help out anytime they see someone in need.

“If you see a child or anyone, it could be an elderly person, or anyone of any age that needs help, please call us. Let us, the authorities with the proper training and equipment determine whether there are other steps or additional steps that need to be taken," said Nova.