PHOENIX — The body of an infant boy was found inside a McDonald's bathroom in Phoenix on Sunday. The city's police department are now hoping potential witnesses who left before they arrived come forward.
“The work that we do every single day is to prevent these types of tragedies," said Heather Burner of the Arizona Safe Baby Haven Foundation.
Burner's organization is set up to raise awareness about the state's safe haven law which is aimed at preventing the abandonment of infants.
“I feel extremely sad," Burner said.
A newborn baby was found inside the fast-food restaurant's bathroom near 33rd Avenue and Indian School on Sunday around 2 p.m, police said. The baby tragically died at the scene despite life-saving measures.
Police released surveillance footage from McDonald's on Monday showing a woman leaving the bathroom before the baby was found. Police have not called her a suspect and her connection, if any, to the incident is unknown but they say they do want to speak with her.
Burner points out questions remain about the baby's circumstances as well as its mother's.
“We have found that the baby, generally, is not the crisis. The situation that the mother or the parents are in at that moment is the crisis," Burner said. "When we can address that, we can try to prevent these tragedies. But oftentimes, we receive calls from women that have been trafficked, they've been assaulted, abused, they've hidden the pregnancy because of whatever reason.”
In 2019, another infant was found in the bathroom trash can at an Amazon warehouse in Phoenix. The mother in that case later told officials she did not know she was pregnant and gave birth to a stillborn. She was not prosecuted.
“In the United States this year, in 2022, there have been eight illegal abandonments of babies all across the country in different scenarios," Burner said. "So for some reason, we are seeing that there are a lot of these cases right now.”
In Arizona, there are options.
Infants can be brought to a designated safe haven location up to 30 days after the baby's birth.
Resources like Arizona Safe Baby Haven Foundation are set up to help parents in crisis. They have a 24/7 crisis hotline that can be reached at 1-866-707-2229.
“We want to really promote that in every way we can that people are here that you can trust that you can reach out to and we can provide those safe options," Burner said.
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