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Baby left at Tampa fire station

Published June 29, 2006

TAMPA — Tampa firefighter Troy Jones was working at Fire Station No. 16 Thursday night when he heard a knock.

Opening the back door, he saw three women. One held a crying baby. A younger woman sobbed. The third consoled the tearful woman.

Jones asked if the baby needed medical care. The women barely responded.

“We’re leaving,” they said, handing over the baby and a paper bag.

As the women departed, Jones, a nine-year veteran of Tampa Fire Rescue, found himself alone, a baby in his arms. It appeared to be about 6 months old.

Inside the bag he saw diapers, several changes of clothes and a bottle. The infant wore a baseball outfit and had a little cough.
Jones contacted paramedics, who took the child to Tampa General Hospital.

Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Bill Wade said the baby appears to be a boy, about 6 to 8 months old.

Florida is one of several states with a “Safe Haven for Newborns” law allowing people to legally drop off unwanted infants at any hospital or fire station.

But this baby didn’t qualify because of its age. The Safe Haven law applies to infants 3 days old or younger. As a result, police and the state Department of Children and Families will be seeking information from the parents.

Still, Wade wouldn’t fault the family. In more than 20 years with Tampa Fire Rescue, he said, he couldn’t recall another instance like what happened at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the little fire station at 5126 E 10th Ave., near Interstate 4 and 50th Street.

“We agree that this family’s decision to drop the child off at a fire station — as opposed to the child meeting other fates — was a good choice,” Wade said.

Emergency officials too often see far grimmer circumstances.

On May 9, police found a baby’s decomposed body in a West Tampa alley off N Albany Avenue near W Main Street. The umbilical cord and placenta were still attached. The baby belonged to Mary Doe, 41, who is being held at Falkenburg Road Jail on charges of child neglect and aggravated manslaughter of a child.

After that, police issued an appeal for people to drop unwanted babies off at Safe Haven sites.

“Maybe this worked,’’ said Tampa police spokesman Larry McKinnon. “We’ve got a live baby now.’’
Police ask that anyone with information about the baby call them at (813) 231-6130.

[Last modified July 2, 2006, 08:20:02]

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