In the dark, freezing hours before dawn, a California newspaper carrier cradled an hours-old infant who had been abandoned in the road.
Aurelio Fuentes Jr., a Fresno Bee newspaper carrier, said it was a good thing his radio volume was low.
He was also thankful that he was driving at just 5 mph while delivering newspapers on Feb. 11.
Before 4:30 a.m., Fuentes saw what he thought was an animal squirming in the middle of a Madera County roadway.
He heard something screaming and when he stopped to check, Fuentes discovered it was actually a real, live baby.
It was an “awful, chilling, moment,” Fuentes told The Fresno Bee.
Fuentes quickly called 911, emotions running high as he stood in the freezing air holding the baby.
While waiting for first responders, Fuentes said a woman drove up and asked if he needed help.
Fuentes sat in the woman’s warm car with the baby, where they discovered the baby’s umbilical cord. She was wearing only a onesie and no diaper.
First responders took the baby girl to Valley View Hospital, where she was rushed to the NICU.
The Madera County Sheriff’s Office said they are searching for the baby’s birth mom.
They have little information to start with, but according to Undersheriff Tyson Pogue, the birth mom did make contact with a stranger on the road at around 4:30 a.m. before abandoning her child.
“She asked if he could take her child,” Pogue said.
The man advised the mother to take her newborn to either a hospital or a fire station, and said that she drove away in a small, white SUV.
“We are still trying to identify the suspect at this time,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook. “She is described by witnesses as a Hispanic female adult, possibly in her early 20’s.”
Fuentes was rattled by the event, and said he’d only delivered about 40 of the 130 newspapers on his route when he had to go home and decompress.
His thoughts wandered to what could have happened if he hadn’t found the vulnerable baby quickly, such as a speeding car or wild animals.
“If there was another vehicle, that baby would have been badly hurt (or killed),” he said.
He told the Fresno Bee that he hoped subscribers would understand why their papers weren’t delivered on time, and promised to finish delivery the following day.
The baby is reported to be in good condition, and will remain in the NICU for a period of time.
Under the Baby Safe Surrender program, a parent or legal guardian can confidentially surrender a newborn within 3 days of birth to an approved safe surrender location, typically fire stations and hospitals.
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