KEARNS, Utah – A newborn baby was in extremely critical condition Tuesday after her 23-year-old mother left her in a neighbour’s trash can in Utah, a state that allows mothers to drop off newborns at hospitals without consequences, police and health officials said.
Authorities arrested Alicia Marie Englert Tuesday night on suspicion of attempted murder, Unified Police in Salt Lake City said in a statement.
A woman heard what she thought was a kitten meowing in the trash bin in the Salt Lake City suburb of Kearns on Tuesday morning and found the baby, Unified Police Detective Jared Richardson said.
Richardson says the girl was airlifted to a hospital in Salt Lake City, where she’s now on a ventilator and fighting for her life.
Police say she was born Monday, and they don’t think she has received any medical care or food.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder, who oversees the Unified Police Department, said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference that investigators did not have any information about where the mother gave birth or why she may have left the baby in the trash can.
The mother told officers she had left the baby about an hour before the child was found, authorities said.
“We had a young lady make a very, very terrible decision,” Winder said.
There were no visible injuries to the child and no information about the child’s father, Winder said.
At the news conference, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and health officials listed resources available for expectant and new mothers, including a crisis hotline and the state’s safe haven law, which allows mothers to leave newborns at hospitals, no questions asked.
A handful of infants are dropped off at Utah hospitals under the safe haven law every year, said Al Romeo with the Utah Department of Health.
It’s not common for a mother to abandon a child in a trash can or other unsafe place, but there have been a few cases over the past 10 years, he said.
Romeo cited the discovery in April of seven dead newborn babies in the garage of a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Police believe the mother killed six of the infants after giving birth to them over a decade. A seventh baby is believed to have been stillborn.
© The Canadian Press, 2014