Baby left with West Side firefighters

January 17, 2012 4:51:41 AM PST
A young, distraught mother left her 6-month-old baby at a Chicago fire station on the city's West Side.

The child, a boy, is being checked out at Stroger Hospital.

Firefighters at Engine 107 firehouse in the 1100-block of South California is a safe haven for all abandoned babies under law. However, at 6 months, this baby is too old to be covered under the Safe Haven Law, which allows parents to leave children 30 days or younger at a fire station, police station or hospital -- no questions asked. That child can then be put up for adoption. The Department of Children and Family Services is investigating.

Ryan Rivera has been a firefighter with Engine 107 for more than three years. He and Lieutenant Ed Stutz opened the fire station door around 9 a.m. to the mother.

"Pretty much the only thing she said was that 'I can't handle it anymore,'" Rivera said. "She just sat there with tears in her eyes. Obviously, something is going on in her life."

Rivera says in keeping with Safe Haven Rules, neither he nor the lieutenant asked the woman any questions and called for an ambulance to take the baby to a hospital.

Rivera said the woman told them she is 19, and the baby is 6 months old. While they were waiting, Rivera held the baby, who was awake, alert and appeared to be well cared for. Rivera, who's a father of four, says he couldn't help thinking of his own children.

"You deal with kids when you have kids. Those moments you remember forever because they're helpless and they're dependent upon firemen and policemen," Rivera said.

After 15 minutes at the firehouse, the baby was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he is in stable condition. Then, the mother left. Rivera says even though the Safe Haven Law applies to babies 30-days and younger, he's glad in a way that the mother opted to leave the 6-month old with them.

"I don't know her situation, we don't know her situation. It very well may be that this was the best alternative for her," Rivera said.

The baby will be in the care of DCFS. It isn't clear if the mother will face charges. Police are investigating, but they do not know her name or where she lives.