July 8, 2016
On July 8, 2016 at approximately 3:40 pm the LCSO received a 911 call from motorist Mitzi Lacoste. Ms. Lacoste was passing through the Gulf Hammock area of Levy County approximately 3/4 of a mile north of the Gulf Hammock caution light when she observed a young child approximately six feet off of the roadway. Ms. Lacoste stopped and found the male child, approximately 2 ½ years old, was not accompanied by any adult. Ms. Lacoste protected and calmed the child until first responders arrived. The child was dressed in only a shirt.
LCSO Deputies, Investigators and the Levy County Department of Public Safety (LCDPS) responded to the scene. Members of LCDPS calmed and treated the distraught child in their ambulance as investigators worked to identify the child’s parent(s). Investigators report LCDPS personnel went above and beyond, displaying their care and compassion for the child.
Law Enforcement identified the mother of the child as Tana Francis Plank (7-7-90) who lived approximately ¼ of a mile away through a wooded swampy area of Gulf Hammock. In Ms. Plank’s initial statement to law enforcement officers, she said she had just awakened from a nap to discover her child missing. She later amended her story and told investigators she had recently used methamphetamines and methadone and fallen asleep. Investigators also discovered during their investigation that approximately three weeks prior the child wandered away from the home and was found by a neighbor near a pond.
Investigators contacted the Florida Department of Children and Family Services (DCF) who have opened their own investigation. DCF has placed the child in protective custody with a family member. Ms. Plank was arrested for Child Neglect and is being held at the Levy County Detention Facility on a $45,000 bond.