Authorities ask for help in finding mother of newborn girl found buried alive

Authorities asked Monday for the public's help in finding the mother of a newborn girl who was found buried alive Friday afternoon near Compton Creek, with one of the sheriff's deputies who rescued her calling her discovery "a miracle.''

"I knew what I was hearing as I (was) digging in the hole. I still didn't believe it. It was more of a disbelief,'' Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Adam Colette said of his initial thoughts at the scene where the baby was found. "When I'm holding the baby, looking down on it, I'm going, 'The baby's fine, it's going to be OK. ... I think the baby definitely had a touch of God that day.''

"I can still picture the baby's face as if I'm holding it right now,'' Colette said.

"It was a miracle,'' said the sheriff's deputy, who is the father of two daughters.

He said he thought the baby may not have been found if it hadn't been crying as two women passed by the area between 136th Street and Slater Avenue around 4 p.m. Friday and decided to call 911 after hearing the noise.

Deputy David Perry, who also was on hand for the baby's rescue, said he was glad the deputies were able to help the baby and that he's hopeful she will have a good future.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the baby was found wrapped in what appeared to be a hospital blanket in a hole filled with loose dirt, vegetation and two pieces of asphalt. The girl was cold to the touch and was taken to a hospital where she remains under observation in stable condition, the sheriff said.

"In this case, we're extremely lucky,'' McDonnell said. "Two women heard the baby and happened to pass by. If they were not alert or had not called for help, we may have lost this precious life.''

The sheriff said medical professionals have surmised the baby likely would not have survived the cold temperatures if it had been left there overnight.

Sheriff's Detective Jennifer Valenzuela, who was called to the scene that day, said she thinks everyone was a little surprised at how well the newborn was doing when they saw her.

"She had a strong will to live ...,'' the detective said. "Somebody heard her cry and it was a loud cry, so, you know, it's basically a miracle.''

Authorities are investigating all of the leads that are coming in about the baby, who may be Hispanic or black, she said.

The baby is believed to have been between 24 and 36 hours old at the time of the discovery, and is now believed to be about four or five days old, the detective said.

"As far as the mother, there (are) a lot of questions that are unanswered,'' Valenzuela said. "We are pleading with the public. Someone needs to speak out.''

Philip Browning, director of Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services, said the agency will be looking for a foster home for the girl.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe also called the girl's rescue "a miracle'' and said it "could have been an absolute tragedy if it were not the quick-thinking actions of some concerned citizens and the incredible response of our sheriff's department.''

He noted that 16 babies have been turned in since the beginning of the year in conjunction with the Safe Surrender program, in which a parent or legal guardian is allowed to turn over a newborn at designated sites such as fire and police stations or hospital emergency rooms.

The parent has 72 hours to do this without facing charges.

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Detectives from the department's Special Victims Bureau asked anyone with information regarding the newborn to call them at (877) 710-5273.

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