GREENACRES, Fla. - Monday morning, Victoria Magena and Lisa Harlan were driving along busy Lake Worth Road when they spotted two sisters, ages 6 and 4, alone and walking barefoot.
"We fed them our breakfast and they came running like they haven't eaten like forever. They had no shoes," Victoria Magena said.
The women say they called law enforcement and the Florida Department of Children and Families. When a deputy from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office drove the children back to their home in a neighborhood across the street, the women were in tears and upset.
PBSO says the deputy checked the home and found satisfactory conditions. He was not concerned with the immediate safety of the children so he left the children with their mother.
Magena and Harlan were upset about the situation and decided to track down the mother minutes after the deputy left the home and confronted her.
"They were gonna' get hit, they were gonna' get hit by a car. We had to run after them, beeping the horn and pull them back!" Magena exclaimed to the crying mother.
The mother of the children, 20-year-old Veronica Perez, says there are four children under her roof and three of them are her own. She admits the children have left the home before, but she says they never went this far. Driving, the distance was 0.7 miles from the house.
"I don't even know how they got out because it was locked from the top and it was locked from the keychain on the top," Perez said through tears, wiping her eyes.
Perez says she was sleeping and didn't know the children were missing until a neighbor told her they had been found. Magena and Harlan say they were young when they became mothers, but they have used food stamps while working. They encouraged the mother to seek help from free services if necessary. They told the mother she should use more safety measures to make the home difficult for a child to escape.
The mother continued to cry, and said she takes good care of her children.
"Yeah, it's just I don't have a car to take them to school and I work at night," she said.
PBSO says it does not have any criminal charges pending against the family. As part of its routine investigation, DCF says it will talk to all parties involved and decide how to deal with the situation going forward.