'A miracle': La. responders find infant abandoned in field alive
A Baton Rouge EMS spokesman said the baby was "tough," and that the 8-month-old child did not cry during the rescue
BATON ROUGE, La. — A baby abandoned overnight in a field along Plank Road was discovered alive and healthy Wednesday after an hours-long search by police and first responders on the ground and a helicopter overhead. Finding the infant unscathed, an EMS spokesman said, was nothing short of "a miracle."
After a night that dipped near 50 degrees, first responders feared the child might suffer from hypothermia. But the baby appeared in good spirits when Baton Rouge Emergency Medical Services came upon the infant near Plank Road, just off Hooper Road.
The child, who was roughly eight months old, "didn't even cry" during the rescue, EMS spokesman Mike Chustz said.
"The timing didn't give us a lot of hope," he added, "but the baby was tough."
A sweeping multi-agency search for the child began Wednesday morning after the mother turned herself in for medical treatment.
The mother showed up at the Harding Road fire station around 6 p.m. Tuesday and was brought to the hospital, Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman Curt Monte said. While being transported the next morning to a different facility for treatment, officials say, she mentioned the child.
BRFD reached out to the woman's family members, who said she had the baby with her when she left her apartment by Harding Boulevard and Cypress Road for the fire station Tuesday evening.
After learning that no one in family knew where to find the child, officials launched a massive search involving firefighters from multiple cities, police officers, a helicopter and at least one police dog.
Crews scoured the woods between Plank and Hooper roads and looked as far west as BRFD headquarters — about a mile from the woman's apartment, according to Monte.
Eventually, the child was located near Saintsville Church on Plank Road after the mother helped Baton Rouge police narrow down the location, which is separated from her apartment complex by a swath of dense trees. The child was eventually spotted from a BRPD helicopter, Monte said.
Temperatures in Baton Rouge hovered around 55 degrees Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, according to TimeAndDate.com.
BRPD spokesman Lt. Don Coppola said the woman doesn't face charges over the incident, which seemed prompted by medical issues.
Louisiana law allows parents to bring babies to so-called "safe-haven sites" if they feel unable to care for them. State statute designates hospitals, fire stations and EMS outposts, among other locations, as safe surrender sites where parents can, in some cases, legally abandon their children.
The safe-haven law applies to children younger than two months, according to the Department of Child and Family Services.
In a public statement about Wednesday's search, East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome thanked first responders for finding the baby safe.
"The Lord guided your efforts today," she said.
The mayor also reminded residents about where to find mental health resources. The Capital Area Human Services offers a hotline for the public at (225) 925-1906, she noted, while the following organizations offer walk-in services:
—Baton Rouge Behavioral Health, 2751 Wooddale Blvd.
—Children's Behavioral Health, 422 Colonial Drive
—North Baton Rouge Behavioral Health, 7855 Howell Blvd.
—Capital Area Recovery Program, 2455 Wooddale Blvd.
(c)2022 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.