Human Interest

Suspect arrested after newborn found in California gas station trash can soon after birth

An abandoned newborn baby is in critical but stable condition after being found alive last Thursday afternoon in a California gas station, reports CBS. Police have arrested a suspect believed to be the child’s mother.

After hearing cries coming from the trash can in a restroom at a Chevron gas station in Fullerton, a store clerk immediately contacted the police. According to FOX 11, when authorities arrived on the scene, they found an hour-old baby boy who was immediately transported to Children’s Hospital of Orange County. 

“The call for service was a possible newborn child in the bathroom trash can. Upon arrival, officers located a newborn child in the trash can and immediately began life-saving measures,” said Sergeant Ryan O’Neil of the Fullerton Police Department, according to FOX 11. “Fullerton Fire responded very shortly after and transported the child to a local hospital for further medical care.”

After an investigation, the Fullerton Police Department arrested resident Venissa Maldonado, 25, and charged her with attempted murder and felony child abuse. Abandoning a child is a crime in California and can result in imprisonment for up to three years. 

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According to the National Safe Haven Alliance, every single U.S. state, including California, has a law under which a parent can legally and safely surrender their baby for a certain amount of days after birth without repercussions. In California, an infant may be given to any on-duty staff member at a hospital, fire or station, or any other EMS provider. A parent may request to reclaim the baby within 14 days.

Certain organizations, such as Safe Haven Baby Boxes, seek to publicize local Safe Haven laws. In addition, they provide resources to mothers in need, community education, training to first responders, and anonymous and safe boxes where infants may be legally and safely left for first responders to collect. Currently, there are 136 baby boxes in the United States, and in at least one state there have been no infant deaths by illegal abandonment since the baby boxes were installed in 2016. 

The heartbreaking incident in California is just one instance of tragic and unsafe abandonment that happens every year and highlights the need for increased awareness of Safe Haven laws and the importance of providing support for parents who may be struggling to care for their newborn babies.

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