A “desperate” teenager walked into a restaurant, handed her newborn baby to a Good Samaritan and then walked out, in an incident that was captured on surveillance video in Jersey City, N.J.
The girl, 14, entered the El Patron restaurant and approached the counter with a newborn baby girl in her arms on Wednesday afternoon, surveillance footage shows. She claimed that she’d found the girl and needed help.
“This lady comes in looking very desperate, holding a brand new (newborn) child, you can even tell,” restaurant owner Frankie Aguilar told NBC4. “She looks at me in the eye, I look at her and she has these eyes of terror and despair.”
Alease Scott, who was eating lunch at the restaurant with her boyfriend, did not hesitate when she saw the baby.
“I said, ‘Do you mind if I check the baby’s vitals?'” she told ABC7. “She readily handed the baby over to me, so my focus went right onto the baby.”
Scott noticed that the baby girl still had part of the umbilical cord attached, and her ears and hair were covered in matter from the birthing process.
“It wasn’t cleaned off very properly,” she said.
Scott then looked at the teenager and noted a streak of dried blood on her leg.
“I immediately said, ‘Oh my God, this is the baby’s mom,'” Scott told NBC4. “But I was more focused on making sure the baby was breathing, so as I looked down at the baby she was gone.”
“It seemed that she was the mother,” Aguilar said. “That’s the thing that was the most heartbreaking.”
Aguilar called 911 while Scott, who is a former therapist and pre-school teacher, provided some first aid to the minutes-old baby.
“I administered oxygen to the baby. Within a couple of seconds of her getting oxygen, we got the most beautiful cry that you’ve ever heard. Her little feet started moving,” Scott said.
“She was trying to suckle on the oxygen mask, so we knew she was OK after that.”
Police arrived a short time later and took the newborn to hospital. They also tracked down the mother and brought her to the hospital for treatment. They say she is 14 years old.
Mom and baby are both doing well, and the girl is expected to be put up for adoption.
No charges have been brought against the mother to date.
Police used the occasion to remind New Jersey residents about the state’s Safe Haven law, which allows parents and guardians to drop an unwanted newborn off at a hospital, police station or fire hall within the first 30 days of the child’s life.
Aguilar says he’s thankful that the girl turned to his family-owned business for help in her time of need.
“Hopefully, we as a society become better at just helping one another, especially after COVID,” he said.
Scott says she’s just glad that her CPR training came in handy. She said she’d love to see the little girl again, and her heart goes out to the mother.
“I’m just so happy I was there to help because she just was desperate and didn’t know what to do,” Scott said.
“She was so young.”