Tarsheima Renee Watterson

PRINCETON — A Mercer County woman faces a child neglect charge after being found slumped over the wheel of her vehicle with a 6-year-old child sleeping in the back seat.

Patrolman B.M. Lambert of the Bluefield Police Department said in his criminal complaint that he was on a routine patrol within the city limits when he saw a Dodge Caravan “having its headlights and reverse lights illuminated and while being at rest alongside of U.S. Route 19/Princeton Avenue near Lamberts Construction.”

Lambert said that the driver’s side door was open and a woman in the driver’s seat appeared to be slumped over as if she was asleep or passed out.

“While approaching the vehicle to check the well being of the female, this officer observed a large amount of liquid and what appeared to be partially digested food on the ground just outside the opened driver door, as well as a severe odor of alcoholic beverages,” Lambert stated in the report.

The woman was identified as Tarsheima Renee Watterson, 41, of Princeton, Lambert said Wednesday in his report. He then saw a small child asleep in the Caravan’s rear seat.

“When asked, Watterson advised it was her 6-year-old daughter,” Lambert said.

Lambert said he saw the “vehicle’s shifting lever in the reverse position, and the ignition keys were present in the ignition of the vehicle, but the vehicle’s ignition was not on at the time.”

Watterson was asked to take three field sobriety tests including the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn, and the one-legged stand, Lambert stated in the report. She acknowledged that she understood the directions for each test.

“Watterson then attempted the field sobriety tests to which she performed all three tests poorly,” he said.

Lambert then asked Watterson to provide a breath sample on a PBT (preliminary breath test) which yielded a breath sample showing a .175 bac (blood alcohol concentration).

One of Watterson’s relatives was contacted to take possession of the child and Watterson was placed under arrest on a charge of DUI with an emancipated minor. She was transported to the Bluefield Police Department where she read her implied consent statement “to which she refused the approved secondary chemical breath test.”

Lambert obtained a search warrant for a blood sample. Magistrate Susan Honaker granted the warrant and the blood sample was obtained at Bluefield Regional Medical Center. This sample was sent to the West Virginia State Police crime lab toxicology department for analysis, according to the report.

Watterson has been also been charged with child neglect creating risk of injury. She was later arraigned before Magistrate William Holroyd, who set a $15,000 cash or surety bond. Watterson is being held at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com