A teen abandoned hew newborn baby in a dumpster in Hobbs, New Mexico, but the baby was rescued by Good Samaritan dumpster divers.
“They thought it may have been a dog or a kitten, so they removed the trash bag, they opened it, and they saw it was a newborn baby,” Hobbs Police Chief August Fons said at a news conference on Monday.
The baby was wrapped in a bloody, dirty bath towel and still had his umbilical cord attached. Authorities estimated the baby boy had been in the dumpster for about six hours. He was transferred to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas and soon after listed in stable condition.
“Their collective quick response to this emergency, including notification of 911, was absolutely pivotal in saving this baby’s life,” said Fons.
Police traced the white car from the surveillance video back to 18-year-old Alexis Avila, who admitted to giving birth and leaving the baby in the dumpster. The temperature was about 36 F° when she left her baby to die. She was immediately arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder, a charge that could possibly be changed to felony child abuse. The charge will be determined at a preliminary hearing.
During an interview with detectives, Fons said that Avila claimed she was not aware that she was pregnant until January 6th, when she sought medical attention for stomach pain. She told the detectives that she unexpectedly gave birth the next day. Avila explained that she panicked and did not know what to do or who to call.
According to court documents, Avila then started driving around Hobbs until she stopped at a dumpster near a shopping area. Video captured by a nearby store owner’s surveillance camera shows a woman stepping out of a white car, picking up a black trash bag from the back seat, and casually tossing it into the dumpster before driving off.
Like every other state, New Mexico has a safe haven law. This law allows parents to leave newborn babies at a safe location for any reason without facing criminal consequences. Police, fire stations, and hospitals are some of the easily accessible places that are considered safe havens. Some cities across the country even have baby boxes, specially designed temperature-controlled boxes where parents can deposit a newborn baby which is then immediately transferred to a hospital and child services department.
Safe haven laws began to pass around the country after Texas enacted the first one in response to several cases of abandoned infants in the late 1990s. By the early 2000s, all 50 states had passed their own form of the law. Anyone considering abandoning or harming their newborn is encouraged to reach out to their local fire department, police station, or hospital, where they can surrender the child without facing criminal penalties.
Avila’s abandoned newborn is now in the care of New Mexico’s Children, Youth, and Families Department. Numerous non-monetary donations of baby care items and gift cards have already been received for him by the department.