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Tags: new mexico | baby box | teen | newborn | dumpster

New Mexico City Installing 'Baby Box' After Teen Allegedly Abandons Newborn in Dumpster

baby box prototype
A prototype of a baby box, where parents could surrender their newborns anonymously, is shown outside the fire station in Woodburn, Indiana, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (Michael Conroy/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 12 January 2022 01:50 PM EST

A New Mexico city is preparing to install a "baby box," where infants can be safely surrendered, days after an 18-year-old mother was arrested elsewhere in the state for allegedly abandoning her newborn in a dumpster.

The baby box, which will cost $20,000 to install, could be operational in Española by March and would be the first such device in New Mexico, according to KRQE. Nearly 300 miles southeast, in Hobbs, Alexis Avila is facing charges of attempted murder and child abuse after several people found a newborn boy she allegedly abandoned in a dumpster behind a shopping center Friday.

"We are finally at the point where we’re going to install our first baby box in the Española Fire Station and we are thrilled about that," Javier Sanchez, mayor of Española, told KRQE. "We’re getting more awareness about what the reality is out there in the world."

According to Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Indiana, a baby box is a safety device which legally permits a mother in crisis to surrender her infant safely and anonymously. The device is installed in an exterior wall of a designated fire station or hospital and has an exterior door that automatically locks upon placement of a newborn inside the box. An interior door allows medical staff to secure the surrendered newborn from inside the building.

Far from a knee jerk reaction to the news from Hobbs, the project has been years in the making, according to KRQE.

On Monday, authorities said that Hobbs police rushed the abandoned child to a local hospital Friday, before he was airlifted to a facility in Lubbock, Texas.

He remained there in stable condition Tuesday.

Sanchez told KRQE that he has spoken with Hobbs’ mayor in the wake of the incident about options for the safe surrender of unwanted infants in New Mexico.

All 50 U.S. states have "safe haven" laws that allow newborns to be dropped off without repercussions at designated locations, such as police stations and firehouses.

"I called the mayor in Hobbs and he was telling me a little bit about the situation and what’s going on," Sanchez told KRQE. "As we got to talking, we said, we need to put one of these in all of our cities. We decided we’ll bring this up at our next mayor’s conference."

John Wickersham, the assistant fire chief of the Española Fire Department, also told the station that the boxes are "temperature-regulated" and "have alarm systems that go off and notify us when we’re not there.

"We respond within three minutes," he added.

In August 2019, New Mexico officials said they found a deceased newborn baby inside a trash bag at a home in Alcalde, near Española.

"It happened here, we found a baby in the trash, and to hear it happened again is devastating," Wickersham told KRQE. "It broke our hearts."

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US
A New Mexico city is preparing to install a "baby box," where infants can be safely surrendered, days after an 18-year-old mother was arrested elsewhere in the state for allegedly abandoning...
new mexico, baby box, teen, newborn, dumpster
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2022-50-12
Wednesday, 12 January 2022 01:50 PM
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