A worker at a collection yard in the City of Industry made the heartbreaking discovery of a newborn girl, apparently full term, amid the recyclables. Homicide investigators were searching Tuesday for the baby’s mother, while authorities stressed that every fire station is a safe surrender zone. Patrick Healy reports from the City of Industry for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2012.
An autopsy was planned on Tuesday for a newborn girl whose body was found on a conveyor belt at a waste collection facility in the City of Industry, sheriff's officials said.
The body was found at Athens Services in the 14000 block of Valley Boulevard (map) at 2:20 p.m. Monday, said Deputy Diane Hecht, a spokeswoman with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
"One of the workers who was sorting through the recyclables saw the baby come down the conveyor belt, stopped the conveyor belt," said sheriff's Lt. John Corina.
Homicide detectives were investigating the death, and Corina said the mother could face consequences depending on autopsy results.
The baby was no more than a day or two old, Corina said. It was difficult to tell if there was physical trauma inflicted on the child, he said.
"The baby was born alive and the mother discarded the baby while it's still alive," Corina said. "That's a homicide."
Investigators said the company had made pick-ups in the San Gabriel Valley, but they had not determined any narrower geographic focus.
Supervisor Don Knabe -- who spearheaded a county program that lets parents or guardians hand over infants three days or younger to any emergency room or fire station -- issued a statement lamenting what he said was a "heartbreaking tragedy."
"The Safe Surrender program was created to give a mother, no matter what the situation, a safe, secure and anonymous way to get her child into safe hands and to protect a baby from abandonment: No shame, no blame, and no names," Knabe said. "Though 101 lives have been saved by the Safe Surrender program, this tragedy shows we have a lot more work to do."
Investigators found a body at the same site in 2002 in an unsolved case.
Athens Services is a waste collection and recycling company that has trash and recyclable collection contracts with numerous Los Angeles-area communities, according to its website.
"Athens Services is saddened by the tragic discovery on our sort lines yesterday," said Gary Clifford, Chief Operating Officer for Athens Services, in a statement. "We are also making grief counseling available to any of our team members, who may be traumatized by yesterday’s discovery."