A man delivering newspapers on Route 36 in Madera Ranchos, Calif., around 4:30 a.m. Monday made a chilling discovery: a newborn baby abandoned in the middle of the road.
Aurelio Fuentes Jr., a newspaper carrier for The Fresno Bee, told the publication that he was glad he was driving slowly and had the radio volume down, as he was able to hear the infant before he spotted it and got out of his vehicle to investigate. “It was just an awful situation,” Fuentes said. “The baby was squirming. You could hear it screaming, too, through the car.”
Fuentes, 21, initially thought the newborn was an animal, or perhaps a toy. But “as soon as I got out of the car, I realized it was a real baby,” he said. It was lying on its back, covered in its own feces, which had leaked through its onesie, he said. The temperature was about 30 degrees Fahrenheit. “You could see the grass frozen, iced up,” he added.
Fuentes told The Fresno Bee he was also grateful to have discovered the baby alive, as it could have easily gone another way. “If there was another vehicle, that baby would have been badly hurt” or killed, he said. “It’s dark. There’s no street lights out here.” He also considered that animals could have gotten there before him. “What if a coyote had found the infant first?” he asked.
Fuentes immediately called 911, and an emergency operator advised that he pick the baby up. Trying to console it, he saw that it wasn’t even wearing a diaper. While Fuentes waited for first responders, a woman driving by asked if he needed help. She was “as shocked as I was” to realize what was going on, he said.
The woman invited Fuentes and the baby into her heated car, where the two decided to unzip its soiled flannel onesie. That’s when they discovered the umbilical cord still attached. The baby — a girl — is thought to have been about 10 hours old, according to the San Francisco Gate.
First responders — including a fire truck, ambulance and officers from the Madera Country Sheriff’s Office — soon arrived and rushed the baby via ambulance to Valley Children’s Hospital, where it was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit, according to a Facebook post by the Sheriff’s Office. She was uninjured but very cold. Authorities are now investigating the identity and whereabouts of the mother.
In its Facebook post, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said the mother is believed to be “a Hispanic female adult, possibly in her early 20s,” according to witnesses, who were not able to provide a precise physical description. After leaving the infant, she allegedly fled the scene in a white SUV — which is also the type of vehicle driven by a young woman who approached Undersheriff Tyson Pogue early Monday morning and asked him to take her baby.
Pogue had instructed the woman to go to a fire station or to nearby Valley Children’s Hospital to surrender the child safely, but that did not happen. Authorities are now asking anyone with information about the mother to call 559-675-7770. Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to the Madera County Sheriff’s office for information on the baby and mother and will update this post when it responds.
The California Safely Surrendered Baby Law was passed in 2001 to prevent the death of newborns abandoned by their parents. It allows caregivers to surrender an infant within 72 hours of birth to a safe place — a hospital or fire station — anonymously and with no questions asked.
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