WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) — A woman claims she took the car keys from a man after she found him slumped over in his car with a child in the passenger seat.
According to police reports, Daniel Phillip, 36, was arrested in the Walmart parking lot in Monkey Junction Tuesday night and charged with child abuse, driving while impaired, and possession of synthetic cannabinoids.
Holly Potter says she was in the parking lot when she saw Phillip’s car sputter to a stop in the middle of the road.
Potter says she walked over to the open window and found Phillip, who was not awake but was breathing. The child sitting next to him, however, was wide awake.
“The baby is sitting there crying for daddy and daddy is passed out on his lap in the middle of the road,” Potter said.
Her first instinct was to take the keys out of the ignition.
“So I was like, ‘I’m getting the keys because he’s not going anywhere,'” Potter said. “Not today. Not on my watch.”
When she grabbed the keys, Potter says Phillip woke up disoriented and started frantically looking for the keys.
At that point, Potter says two bystanders stepped out of their trucks to assist her. She told them to call the police and says that’s when Phillip took off.
“He snatched the baby out, ran into the woods and the guys go after him,” Potter said. “He runs through the woods onto Carolina Beach Road and the guys go get him and bring him back.”
Potter claims the bystanders chased after Phillip and brought him back to the parking lot as law enforcement arrived.
Phillip was placed under a $400 bond and was released early Wednesday morning.
“Find help for him,” Potter said. “Rehab, detox, whatever it takes, because that boy needs a dad.”
Those are words of advice coming from a mother who knows all too well how quickly a family can be turned upside down.
“Losing my son made me realize a lot more, you cherish every moment you have with them,” said Potter, whose son, Forrest Johnson, jumped off the Snow’s Cut Bridge to his death two years ago this month.
Like his mother, Forrest had an instinct to do the right thing. He ran into a neighbor’s burning building to help them in 2014.
That’s why Potter said she wasn’t just in the right place at the right time Tuesday night in that parking lot.
In her opinion, it was no coincidence. She was meant to be there.
“I think God and Forrest put me there for a reason,” Potter said. “To save that little boy.”
Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.