“She was just crying and yelling, ‘The baby is my life. I live for her… She’s all I have left. Please let her live.”
Those were the words spoken to a WINK News reporter by Donna Gross, a witness who came upon the site of a gruesome accident in Fort Myers, Florida on February 17, 2020. Two adults survived with minor injuries. The driver’s three-year-old daughter, Serenity Rose Robinson, was not so lucky.
“It just broke my heart,” said another witness, Rob Sorensen, who rushed to the family’s aid when he witnessed the accident, immediately attending to the gravely injured little girl. “…I prayed over her. And, just asked Jesus… ‘make sure she’s okay and stuff like that,’ and [to Serenity] ‘Come on, come on, you gotta make it… you have a full life ahead of you.”
Sadly, Serenity, who should have had the opportunity to live out that full life, later died at Lee Memorial Hospital from her injuries. The beloved, beautiful, dark-eyed little girl with a head full of gorgeous brown curls and a sassy, larger-than-life personality succumbed to the injuries she suffered from being ejected from her mother’s silver 2005 Kia minivan. She was born on August 24, 2016, and she died on February 17, 2020 at the age of three and a half. Heartbreaking.
What the hell happened?
The minivan, containing little Serenity, her mother, Leslie Joe Zeagler, and another woman, was traveling eastbound on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near Rockfill Road when, according to Fort Myers police, Leslie blacked out behind the wheel. The van left the roadway, striking several palm trees, and rolled over. Serenity, who was not restrained, was ejected during the accident.
Investigators found there was no car seat, booster seat, or any type of child restraint device in the vehicle, which, of course, is required by law. Serenity wasn’t even secured by a seatbelt, which, although it would not have met the standard of the law, might have prevented her death.
To make matters worse, Leslie was found to be “impaired by multiple controlled substances” at the time of the accident. This means she wasn’t drunk but instead under the influence of either legal drugs, illegal drugs, or both when she passed out and flew off the road, allegedly killing her three-year-old daughter.
The accident happened at 3:30 PM, which is just before rush hour, and caused the eastbound lanes of the major roadway to be closed until 11:30 PM, stranding a large number of motorists for up to eight hours. The two women in the minivan were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
At the time of Serenity’s death, her father, 39-year-old Randy Deon Robinson, was incarcerated at the Lee County Jail due to driving with a suspended license as a habitual offender. A family member made a plea on Facebook for help paying to furlough him so he could attend his precious daughter’s funeral. What an awful situation to be in.
The Fort Myers Police Department began an investigation, assisted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, with charges pending immediately.
Leslie Zeagler, who lives in Cape Coral and who turned 30 on February 28, turned herself in just after midnight on Monday, April 20. She is being held in the Lee County Jail on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child by culpable negligence, DUI manslaughter, and driving with a suspended license. Bail has not been set.
Leslie also charged in March of this year with petit theft in the second degree after being caught shoplifting from Walmart in Fort Myers. According to the probable cause statement, the store’s loss prevention officer, Eric Metz, called police and reported that Leslie took several items from the store’s jewelry department, stashing them in her purse. She then hit up the home office section of the store, replacing the tags on several items with tags from lower-priced items before fleeing the store through the outside vestibule without paying for any of her items, which included some makeup, a planner, a wallet, a $2.00 tank top, and some stickers. The merchandise was worth a total of $54.27. Leslie was released at the scene after being issued a Notice to Appear.
That case was closed when Leslie entered into a pretrial diversion agreement, also known as a deferred prosecution agreement, meaning she agreed to pay court costs and to avoid breaking the law, moving, changing jobs, or leaving the state for the next three months.
It’s clear that at some point in the fairly recent past, Leslie’s life took an unexpectedly sharp downturn.
The Fort Myers Police Department said in a press release, “The senseless death of Serenity is one that certainly could have been avoided. The Fort Myers Police Department reminds motorist[s] not to drive while impaired and certainly not with a restrained or unrestrained child in the car.”
What a waste of a young, promising life. What a massive loss to a family who clearly loved this gorgeous, bright, happy child.
Restrain your kid properly! Drugs kill!
My heart goes out to Serenity’s family, including Leslie. I hope she’s able to turn this tremendous loss into something positive.
Rest in peace, Serenity.
Sources: WINK News, Lee County court documents, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Myers Police Department, Facebook