As a torrential storm rolled through Omaha, Nebraska, on Friday night and Saturday morning, a minivan sat unlocked and running in a library parking lot.
Leslie Bramer, who lives near the Benson branch of the Omaha Public Library, spotted the van late at night with its lights on, she told the Omaha World-Herald. Early Saturday morning, when she realized the van was still idling there, she called police around 6:35 a.m.
That’s when authorities discovered what was inside the van: Two little boys, 4 and 5 years old, sleeping in the back alone — with parents nowhere to be found, according to police. The boys were frightened, hungry and cold. They were also in desperate need of a bathroom, KETV reports.
The young boys (and a dog lying in the front seat) had endured an entire night sleeping alone in a dark parking lot during a “terrible storm,” police wrote in a report obtained by the World-Herald — including 60 to 80 mile per hour winds, thunder and lightning. Tornadoes were spotted to the west, and the storm was so severe it left 8,650 without power, local utilities said.
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As Bramer brought over Honey Nut Cheerios to feed the children and police took them to the bathroom, the boys’ father — Charles R. Bibbs, 28 — made his way back to the parking lot around 7:15 a.m., police said, according to the World-Herald. Bibbs told police he only meant to leave the children alone for a couple of hours to go to a bar the night before, WOWT reports.
But instead of returning for the children, Bibbs told police he got drunk and went home with a woman from the bar, forgetting about his kids, according to KMTV. Bibbs left the kids in the parking lot to go to the bar around midnight, he said.
Bibbs was arrested and faces two felony counts of child abuse, according to Douglas County Jail records.
As Bibbs spoke to police at the scene, officers noticed he didn’t just reek of alcohol — he had a noticeable urine stain on his pants, WOWT reports.
Because Bibbs didn’t have any car seats in his vehicle, police had to find car seats before taking the boys into child protective services custody, WOWT reports. The two children are among Bibbs’ six dependents, his public defender said.
The dog was taken to the Nebraska Humane Society, KETV reports.
Bibbs is being held on $75,000 bail, jail records said.
Bibbs had just been released Friday from prison, where he had been serving a drunk driving sentence, according to state corrections department records obtained by the World-Herald.
“When the officer first said there were two kids inside that van, I began to cry,” Bramer told the World-Herald. “I can’t believe these two little kids were in that van during that storm and didn't get out.”