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Thursday September 20, 2018

2nd baby abandoned in safe box

Monday, April 09, 2018 14:52 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

By summer, northwest Indiana could have its second Safe Haven Baby Box like the one used by another mother Sunday evening to safely abandon her infant near Michigan City.

Monica Kelsey, the creator of the box, said she could not disclose the location of the second box planned in the region until it's christened for use probably by summer.

Currently, the only two boxes in the country are in Indiana, Kelsey said.

One is at the Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire Department outside Michigan City.

The other is near Ft. Wayne at the fire department in Woodburn where Kelsey abandoned herself two hours after birth is a firefighter.

Her mission is giving mothers who don't want their babies another safe option instead of a dumpster or some other life-threatening method of abandonment.

''I want to thank the mom for doing the right thing and having the courage to find a safe place for her newborn,'' Kelsey said.

About 7 p.m. on Sunday, Coolspring Township volunteer firefighter Lt. Chuck Kohler said he was leaving home to go to the store when the outside door on the box was opened triggering a silent alarm to the 911 dispatcher.

Within 60 seconds, he pulled up to the fire station and heard a baby crying then opened the box from inside the fire station.

On a tiny foam mattress inside the heated box was a healthy looking baby somewhat cleaned up with the umbilical cord still attached, said Mick Pawlik, chief of the Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Kohler said he handed the infant after making sure it was o.k to paramedics who took the baby to the hospital.

The bread box sized container inserted into the outside wall of the fire station was made available for use in April of 2016.

Pawlik said the box opens from the outside but once the baby is inside the door when shut automatically locks.

The door on the inside of the fire station can be opened by any firefighter or member of the LaPorte County Sheriff's Office, Pawlik said.

This was the second time the box was used.

The first time was in November.

Pawlik said the first baby left in the box has since been adopted and lives in southern Indiana.

''I think the message is out that this is an option. This is another tool we use to save lives,'' Kohler said.

According to authorities, it's legal in Indiana for mothers to abandon their babies within 30 days after birth at a hospital, police department or fire station but infants at those location must be handed to another person.

Kelsey said the boxes allow mothers to remain anonymous without bearing the shame or guilt some might feel handing their baby to another individual.

She said the next box will be going up soon in Ohio.

A fourth one planned for Indiana is going to the central part of the state.

Kelsey said efforts are also underway to place boxes in other states like Pennsylvania and Iowa.

''As you can see from the surrender yesterday, it's working,'' she said.
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