Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials are asking for the public's help to find the mother of a newborn baby girl who was found buried alive underneath a pile of debris and asphalt in Compton.
Detectives believe she was abandoned sometime Thanksgiving morning and spent several hours alone and cold before being rescued by a sheriff’s deputy who couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
"I know what I was hearing, a faint baby cry as I’m digging in the hole," Deputy Adam Collette said. "I still didn’t believe it."
When she was in his arms, Collette said he could immediately feel the baby calm down. It helped that he's a father of two young daughters and said he knows the difference between a cry of hunger and a cry of pain.
"The cry that I heard as a father was more of a cry for help. I’m hungry, but not like I'm injured," Collette said.
Sheriff's officials said the baby is doing well. Two women heard the baby crying and called 911 Thursday, and Collette and fellow Deputy David Perry were able to find her and pull her out of a two-foot-wide hole where she had been buried underneath a pile of debris.
"The hole was filled with loose dirt vegetation and two large pieces of asphalt," Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.
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Detectives said they have gotten a lot of leads but they still need the public’s help. They still don’t know who the baby’s mother is, where she gave birth and why she didn’t take advantage of the law that allows for the safe surrender of newborns within 72 hours.
"Any fire station, any sheriff station, any hospital. Not in the parking lot, you have to cross the threshold," LA County Supervisor Don Knabe said, explaining the steps a parent can take.
There have been 16 safe surrenders in LA County so far this year, and 140 since the law was passed in 2001.
The blanket the baby was wrapped in appeared to be a hospital blanket, so detectives are checking area hospitals.
Deputy Collette said he’s thankful the baby was not hurt. Another hour or so and it would have been dark and no one thinks she could have survived the cold night.
Collette said he visited the baby at the hospital over the weekend. He calls her survival "a touch of God."