Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Collette said he recognized the cry that was coming from a crevice on a bike path in Compton, even though it was muffled.
“The cry that I heard, as a father, was more of a cry for help, I’m hungry, but not like I’m injured and hurt,” the deputy said Monday. “I know what I was hearing, but I didn’t believe it.”
Kneeling down, Collette, 34, and his partner, Deputy David Perry, 36, began to remove pieces of asphalt. Collette reached inside the half-moon shaped crevice, about a foot deep, and pulled out a newborn baby girl. She was wrapped in a hospital blanket, but she was cold to the touch.
“I’m holding the baby, and I’m looking down at it and I’m thinking, ‘The baby is fine,’” Collette said, recounting during the discovery Friday afternoon during a news conference at downtown L.A.’s Hall of Justice.
Los Angeles County officials and investigators said they were continuing to look for the mother of the child and are reaching out to the public to help with that search.
“We encourage her to come forward,” said Det. Jennifer Valenzuela of the sheriff’s Special Victim’s Bureau. “We’re also worried for her well-being."
The baby girl, who is described as having black hair and being possibly Latina or of African American descent, was believed to be three to four days old when she was found.
Valenzuela said it looks like the baby was born at a hospital, but was then abandoned by the mother.
Two women who were walking along the path had reported hearing what sounded like the cries of a baby. The newborn might have died had the women not alerted authorities.
“It’s truly a miracle that this young baby girl is alive,” said L.A County Supervisor Don Knabe. "The message we always want to get out is that there is always a better choice.”
He said mothers have the option to safely surrender their babies.
In California, a safe-surrender law was enacted in 2001 in order to prevent cases of newborn abandonment. The law allows parents or guardians to drop off unwanted babies within 72 hours of birth at a hospital or fire station without any criminal liability.
From Jan. 1, 2001, to Dec. 13, 2014, more than 600 newborns were safely surrendered in California, including 73 in 2014. State officials say the law has saved lives.
“It’s a near tragedy that does not have to happen,” said Sandy DeVos, program administrator at Baby Safe Los Angeles.
The baby in Compton is the fourth newborn to be found abandoned this year in Los Angeles County. But 16 babies have been left safely at local fire stations and hospitals, DeVos said.
Officials say the baby girl will eventually be put up for adoption and encouraged anyone interested to reach out to foster care services.
Collette and Perry said they have visited the girl at the hospital since they found her and are happy that she is doing well.
Valenzuela said the baby girl has been named Jane Doe until they can locate her mother. But the detective said among those close to the case, the infant is known as “Baby Grace.”