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A man looking through a dumpster in South Lakeland on Thursday morning found a bag containing the body of a baby boy, his placenta and umbilical cord still attached.
Police Chief Sam Taylor said it happened behind the Just Move Athletic Club at 3625 S. Florida Avenue.
“Officers responded along with fire rescue, but the baby obviously did not make it – it was deceased at the scene,” Taylor said during a morning press conference. “The medical examiner now is in possession of the child and will conduct their post-mortem examination. Detectives from the police department are out there canvassing the area trying to find any information they can that will lead them to who put the child in the dumpster.”
Taylor estimated that the infant had been in the dumpster less than 10 hours. It was unclear if he was stillborn or suffocated in the bag. The chief said all indications suggest the baby had been a viable fetus. He declined to give the ethnicity of the baby.
This is the second time in the last year that a newborn has been found abandoned in Polk County. A newborn girl was found by Polk County Sheriff’s deputies in the early morning hours of January 28 in Mulberry’s Regal Loop Mobile Home Park, just off of Bailey Road, after someone reported hearing a baby crying outside.
At about 1:47 a.m., deputies found the girl wrapped in a blanket, her placenta still attached. She was about an hour old. Temperatures that night were in the lower 50s. She was taken to a local hospital and was reported to be healthy and stable. The mother of the girl has not been found.
On Thursday, Taylor discussed the Safe Haven for Newborns program, a law that was enacted in Florida in 2000 that allows the mother or father of a newborn up to 10 days old to leave the baby with a staff member at a Safe Haven for Newborns facility, a hospital, or any 24/7 fire or EMS station.
“The law says you will remain anonymous – you don’t have to tell anyone who you are, your name, or your baby’s name. If you share any information with us; we will not share that information with anyone,” the program’s website states.
Pregnant teens or women can also call 1-877-767-BABY (2229) in order to get help or arrange for the baby to be adopted, even before the child is born. The website’s statistics show that 371 newborns have been handed over nationally since the program began, 6,000 women have been helped and 72 women chose to give their children up for adoption.
“The sad thing about it is right across the street or just down the street, … there’s an emergency room and just down the street a little bit further is an ambulance station that the mother – or the father, whoever it was that dumped the child, we’re not making any assumptions – could have taken the child to,” Taylor said.
If you have any information, call Lakeland Police at (863) 834-6900.
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