MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Marion County deputies were searching Thursday for a mother who abandoned her newborn baby boy in the bathroom of an Interstate 75 rest stop.
The baby was found in the bathroom at about 3 a.m. Sunday, investigators said.
He was taken to a local hospital where the baby was listed in stable condition.
Oviedo Fire Chief Lars White could not understand why someone would abandon a baby in a rest stop bathroom when Florida safe haven laws allow them to leave newborns at any hospital or fire station open 24 hours a day.
“I was grateful to hear that the newborn was doing well,” White said. “I wish the parents perhaps would have known. Maybe they didn’t know about the law.
“We don’t know the circumstances yet behind that, but we have to say that’s an illegal abandonment.”
Parents who surrender their newborns under Florida safe haven laws can stay anonymous, which makes the situation even more confounding, White said.
“That’s the key to the success of the law,” he said. “There’s no questions asked. No names taken, no vehicle tags, no address. No information.”
There have been 59 illegal newborn abandonments since 2000, while hundreds of parents have surrendered babies at safe haven locations, White said.
“As of today, we’re up to 271 newborn infants that have been saved at either fire stations or hospitals throughout the state of Florida,” he said.
Learn more about the Safe Haven law below:
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