In St. Petersburg, Florida, a WFLA news team had descended upon a retirement home in search of a story. They had heard reports of elder abuse taking place and wanted to get the information straight from the source.
As they tried to contact the elderly man they were concerned about, something else caught their eye.
In a nearby apartment parking lot, Michael Egger — a photojournalist with the team — spotted a baby car seat. At first, it looked empty or like it was holding a doll, but to his surprise, it was no toy.
It was a baby. A human on the other end of the spectrum from the man they were looking for, abandoned in the nearby parking lot.
Certainly not what Mark Douglas or Michael Egger expected to find while at a retirement home. Despite being alone, the baby was — thankfully — unharmed and in good spirits.
He looked like he’d been well-cared-for, in his car seat and with a bottle under an arm, so why in the world had he been left on the hot pavement of the parking lot?
Inquiries were made at the apartment complex, but no one seemed to recognize the little tyke. They were invested, though, and had shifted gears completely; they had to find out what had happened, and where the little boy’s parents were.
“He was not sweating, he was not hot, he had a bottle that he was sitting there with,” said Egger. “He was sleeping.”
After briefly canvassing the area for pointers, they called the cops. They were shocked when an officer came screeching onto the scene moments later.
Egger and Douglas thought the response time was impressive, given the fact they’d only just discovered the boy. That’s when Officer Douglas told them the department had been frantically searching for that very child.
Apparently, the boy had been (perhaps inadvertently) kidnapped by a thief who had stolen the car he’d been waiting in. The child’s father had left the baby in the running car for just a moment while he ran back inside to grab his wallet.
When he’d retrieved it and gone back outside, the car was nowhere to be seen. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: your child is missing after just a moment of absence. It shouldn’t happen, but it does.
By some miracle, the thief realized the precious cargo he’d absconded with and probably didn’t want that on his record or his conscience. He must have dumped the baby in the parking lot and fled.
The parents were quickly notified, though the authorities were careful to ensure that the child was theirs.
“We were just thrilled when they told us,” said the mother, who wished to remain anonymous, “and they didn’t even tell us right away, because they were trying to make sure it was the right baby.”
Mark Douglas recounted the whole event in a WFLA article. “Not just another day on the job?” He wrote. “No sir, not even in the news business. But it was a good one.”
We’re glad Douglas and Egger were in the right place at the right time. Because of their awareness and fast action, a baby boy is safe and sound, back where he belongs.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.