The white Ford truck was parked outside of McDonald’s, not really in a space, kind of diagonal in fact, and no one knew who was in it or why it had been sitting there for over an hour.

Inside the restaurant was Montice Span, the night manager who had just finished shutting down the place. The floors had been mopped, the grill cleaned, the bathrooms checked and the shelves stocked. Finally, it was time to go home.

Then she looked into the security camera and saw the white truck from outside slowly creep into her black one a few spaces away, scraping the side before coming to a stop. She called 911 and the Sarasota police arrived shortly thereafter.

Span walked outside to meet them and couldn’t believe what she saw next: An officer was pulling a young girl from the back seat of the white truck. She looked through the tinted windows and saw yet another sitting girl there.

“Oh my god,″ she remembers thinking. “He’s got kids in there.″

The driver of the truck was Bret Clark of Myakka City, and somehow on Jan. 28 he had driven to the McDonald’s on South Washington Avenue in Sarasota. According to a report, the police found him asleep and hunched over his steering wheel. His keys were in the ignition, his truck still in drive, his foot on the brake.

A large green bottle of Jameson’s whiskey was at his side, two-thirds of it empty, and a can of Budweiser was in the backseat near one of the girls, who was asleep. The zipper on his pants was down.

Clark had no idea how he wound up in Sarasota — he said he thought he was in Bradenton — and only at jail did he ask if the kids had been injured. “He showed no concern otherwise for the children and the state they were in,″ the report said.

Rick Greene was one of the officers on scene. He gave the two girls, ages 8 and 4, toy badges to wear. The girls looked hungry, Green thought, and he had the presence of mind to ask Clark if they were allergic to anything. Clark said no. It was about 1 a.m. on a cold night and he approached Span, asking if he could buy the girls some food.

“Don’t worry,″ Span said to him. “I’ve got them.″

It didn’t matter that the place had been shut down for 30 minutes: Span, 38, and a male employee named Troy, who is older than her, fired the grill back up and gave the two girls a “big old duffel bag of stuff.″

She gave them three plain cheeseburgers and three hamburgers — condiments on the side in case they were picky — large fries for them to share, two bags of apple slices, one Sprite and box of apple juice.

She also gave them some Lego toys to play with and a silver pouch that had blank valentines inside.

“Those two employees stepping up was a big deal,″ Greene said. “We were all touched by it.″

The two girls took the food back to the police car, where it was warm. Greene offered to pay but Span, who has a 6-year-old daughter, refused to take the money.


“I spoil everybody’s kids,″ she said. “I give them anything want. When they come in for Happy Meals I ask their parents, ‘Have they been good in school? Yes? Then can they have ice cream for a treat?’ ″

If there is extra food she has been known to give burgers to homeless people who are not bothering anyone outside.

“I’ve got a good heart toward people,″ she said. “In this business people get grumpy, but sometimes I can make their day feel a little better.″

Clark was charged with DUI and two counts of neglect of a child without great bodily harm. Both are third-degree felonies. Span wonders why he didn’t have the sense to walk into the restaurant and tell someone he was intoxicated and had children in the car. She wonders about a lot of things from that night.

“I’m glad he didn’t have them on the highway and killed those kids,″ she said. “That was my concern.″

It was a horrible situation, late on a cold night. A man who drank too much got in his truck with two young girls in the back seat. He was found slumped over his steering wheel in a parking lot, thinking he was in another town.

Then came the Sarasota police, the manager at McDonald’s and a “big old duffel bag of stuff″ to make things just a little bit better.

“It makes me feel so good that I was able to help those kids,″ Span said. “When this calms down I want to see if I can get in touch with them and give them a hug and let them know they’re loved.″