A person walking through a parking lot of a Food City in Tempe, Arizona, spotted a backpack sitting in a shopping cart with nobody around it.
As ABC15 reports, an abandoned newborn was found wrapped up in the blanket inside the backpack. The unnamed man who discovered the baby girl told the store manager, who contacted police.Screenshot/ABC15
The infant still had some of the umbilical cord attached and appeared to have been born that day. The parking lot where she was abandoned was just feet away from the Tempe Fire Department, a safe baby haven.
Arizona law allows a person to hand over an unharmed newborn to certain locations, including a fire department, within 72 hours of their birth, with no questions asked.
Paul Niles, assistant chief for the Tempe Fire Department explained to 12News the safe haven law:
“It exempts people from the charge of child abuse, it was passed to do what its name says, it is to protect children.”
Arizona’s safe baby haven law, which passed in 2001, gives mothers the following locations to give up newborn babies:
- Designated Adoption Agency
- On-duty Fire Stations
- Designated Churches
Almost every state in the United States has a similar safe haven law, which allows parents to anonymously give up their child to a certain authorized locations without fear of prosecution. The specifics, including locations and age by which the custody must be relinquished, vary from state to state.Screenshot/ABC15
In regards to the baby found in the backpack, Niles said:
“Apparently, whoever did this wasn’t aware of those options and made a decision that could have had tremendously tragic consequences. It’s heartbreaking to imagine someone who felt like this was their best option.”
Detective Lily Duran of the Tempe Police Department was grateful the baby was safe and unharmed, as temperatures reached 104 degrees the day she was found:
“We’re very fortunate this baby is healthy and is doing well. The heat could have been a factor, somebody could have just taken it, there are just so many things that could have gone wrong.”
Police are searching for relatives of the newborn and are asking that anyone with information contact them at (480) 350-8311. The Food City where the infant was found is located on Apache Boulevard and Dorsey Lane.