EAST SPARTA, Ohio — Returning from an ambulance call early Monday, paramedics with the Tri-District Ambulance Service noticed something unusual tucked behind a brick wall near a dumpster outside of their headquarters.
“If you looked at it when they were backing in, it looked like a basket of clothes,” said Magnolia Police Chief Jeffrey Hagar. “They could have easily just pulled in and not investigate it.”
Inside the white wicker basket, the paramedics found a nine pound baby girl.
“The baby was bundled up. There were several blankets. It was clothed and it had a hat on. It was 44 degrees that morning according to my car temperature reading,” said Hagar, who was called to the scene.
The newborn was taken to nearby Aultman Hospital. Hagar said the paramedics left for their call at 8:17 a.m. Monday, and would have noticed the basket if it was there when they left.
They found it when they came back about an hour later.
Ohio’s Safe Haven Law allows parents to hand over a newborn to a health care professional at a hospital, at a fire station or at a hospital emergency room, no questions asked.
But the newborn has to be physically handed to someone.
Hagar said it does not allow parents to simply abandon their baby outside of a fire station.
Because the little girl still had part of her umbilical cord attached, it is believed that she was no more than a day old.
On Monday afternoon, attorneys for the Stark County Job and Family Services were in court seeking temporary emergency custody of the newborn.
“From our agency’s perspective, we have to do what’s best for the child, and that’s making sure the child is cared for, is getting the best medical care and permanency,” said Michael Vaccaro, the agency’s chief legal counsel.
Vaccarro said if a parent were to come forward, there are options. But at this point, the agency is moving toward adopting the girl to a permanent family, arguing she was neglected and abandoned.
“She deserves a family. I mean a family that is going to care for her and make a commitment to her for the rest of her life, and that’s what we want to see,” said Vaccaro.
The little girl remained at Aultman Hospital on Tuesday with indications of what could be a slight infection, but she was expected to be just fine.
Magnolia police, however, believe someone in the vicinity knows a person who was pregnant but no longer is, and they would like to hear from them or from the baby’s mother.
Police are asking anyone with information on the baby call (330) 866-9434.