Police are searching for a woman who allegedly left a newborn baby with her umbilical cord still attached lying in the middle of a California road in cold weather.
The Madera County Sheriff’s Office was cited by ABC news as saying that a newspaper delivery person found the newborn baby girl in the early morning hours of Monday, Feb. 11, lying “on the center line of a roadway.”
“The newborn was discovered dressed only in a soiled onesie in weather just below 30 degrees,” said the California Highway Patrol in a statement.
The newspaper carrier reportedly took the baby into his vehicle to keep her warm and called 911.
The California Highway Patrol said that personnel from Central Division’s SAFE and Madera Area responded to the scene and “provided the newborn girl with a blanket for warmth.”
The baby was taken to Valley Children’s Hospital for treatment and is doing well, according to the CHP statement.
‘Awful, Chilling Moment’
Aurelio Fuentes Jr. said it was an “awful, chilling, moment” when he came upon the infant lying in the middle of a dark roadway, as he was delivering copies of The Fresno Bee in the Madera Ranchos area, the Fresno Bee reported.
Fuentes said that luckily, the traffic was light.
“If there was another vehicle, that baby would have been badly hurt (or killed),” he said, according to the Fresno Bee.
Fuentes said he was approaching a customer’s house when he saw something moving in the middle of the roadway.
“I see a bright white thing laying on the road—I’m like is this an animal?” said Fuentes, according to ABC affiliate KFSN. But on closer inspection, he realized it was a baby lying in the middle of the road.
“I approached slowly,” he said, adding, “next thing you know, I see it’s red.”
Fuentes then realized the shocking reality of what he was seeing.
“I saw a face,” he said. “It’s a baby.”
Fuentes told KFSN that in addition to the danger from passing vehicles, there was the risk of wild animals happening upon the child.
“It could’ve been worse because out its pitch black,” he said, adding, “there could’ve been coyotes, there’s cars going by fast down that road.”
Madera County Undersheriff Tyson Pogue said at a press conference Monday night, “It’s very fortunate that the child was discovered by the newspaper delivery person before she was seriously injured or even possibly killed.”
“The baby was cold, but luckily she was discovered early enough that she’ll make a full recovery,” said Pogue.
ABC30 reporter Sontaya Rose posted a tweet, saying the baby girl was abandoned near a church.
The baby girl was abandoned steps away from a Madera Ranchos Church. The pastor of the church says the speed limit here is 45 miles an hour and it’s a miracle the newborn was found and survived. pic.twitter.com/v93eMxgJry
— Sontaya Rose (@SontayaRose) February 11, 2019
Rose interviewed the Rev. Paul Krob who said he was shocked the infant survived.
Pastor Paul Krob of Lifetree Assembly of God wishes the church was opened this morning. He says he’s shocked the infant wasn’t struck or found by any animals. pic.twitter.com/hcMglU3OzG
— Sontaya Rose (@SontayaRose) February 11, 2019
Woman in White SUV
Pogue said a witness claimed he encountered a woman with a baby near the scene, just minutes before the infant was found.
“About 4:30 this morning a man was walking eastbound on Avenue 13 1/2 when he was approached by a female driving a white, smaller SUV,” Pogue told the press.
“This female got out of her car,” Pogue said, adding, “asked the man if he could help her, and asked him to take her child. The man directed her to the fire station and the Valley Children’s Hospital down the street and suggested she take the baby there.”
Pogue said the witness described the suspect as a Hispanic woman in her early 20s.
“A few minutes later a newspaper delivery person driving east on Avenue 13 1/2 noticed something in the middle of the road,” Pogue said, adding, “he pulled over and was shocked to discover a newborn baby girl on the centerline of the roadway.”
Fuentes told the Fresno Bee that after he called 911, a woman drove up and asked if he needed help. He said he told her he had found a baby on the road.
“She was as shocked as I was,” Fuentes said, according to the report.
The woman suggested they put the baby in her car because her heater was on full blast and it was warm.
The two reportedly unzipped the baby’s one-piece flannel pajamas to check for injuries and discovered the umbilical cord still attached.
Moments later the California Highway Patrol (CHP) arrived and took the baby into their care.
“The California Highway Patrol would like to take the opportunity to remind everyone of California’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law,” CHP said in a statement. “Parents or persons with lawful custody can safely surrender an infant within 72 hours of birth, with no questions asked, at designated safe drop-off sites.”
Safe surrender sites are hospitals or other locations, typically fire stations, according to the law.
The woman who was in the white SUV is suspected of abandoning the newborn faces charges including felony child endangerment and, potentially, attempted murder.