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HONOLULU, Hawaii (KHNL) — Detectives are searching for the person who abandoned a newborn overnight at Hawaii’s Sandy Beach Park.
Officials with the Department of Human Services say the baby girl was not injured, but is under observation at the Queen’s Medical Center.
“I think first and foremost, we’re happy to report that the female infant is doing quite well. She’s drinking formula, weighs approximately 8 pounds,” said Patricia McManaman, the Director of the Department of Human Services.
McManaman says the baby girl appears to have been born a week or two early and was delivered within the last 24 hours.
The infant was reportedly discovered unclothed at Sandy Beach by a 21-year-old woman who heard a baby’s cries coming from the shoreline and found the infant alone in the sand.
“Just blessed that the child had an angel that came and helped her out,” said Jonathan Kamai, a Sandy Beach regular. “It would have to be something tragic for someone to just leave their newborn here,” said Kamai choking up. “Just as a father, how somebody could actually just do that kind of stuff — it’s just crazy.”
Scott Lima, another Sandy Beach regular, says he was camping in the area overnight and was woken around 11:30 p.m. Sunday by loud activity outside his truck.
“We heard one van pull up or something and whole bunch of people jumped out and I’m not sure what they was doing, but after they left I went back sleep — and a whole bunch of cops came out of nowhere and they started coning off the area,” described Lima, who says he never saw a pregnant woman or a woman with a baby. “It was kind of surprising to see all these cops over here looking for somebody this late at night, one little kid — whoa, that’s mental.”
Law enforcement sources say an eyewitness reported seeing a woman standing in the water and heard her screaming in pain. When he approached her, she told him she cut her foot on the reef. Later, he reportedly saw another woman with a crying baby leaving the beach.
The closest hospital is just three miles away from Sandy Beach. Hawaii’s “Baby Safe Haven” offers protection from prosecution for anyone who surrenders an unharmed newborn within 72 hours of the child’s birth at a hospital, fire station, police station, or with emergency medical service personnel.
“I think for all women who find themselves in this situation there are an array of options, and I think the last option that’s available to them is the Safe Haven law,” said McManaman.
McManaman says the purpose of the law is to establish a safe haven for newborns and protect the health and safety of the abandoned newborn. Anyone who surrenders a newborn under the law, will be asked to provide the following information: name of the newborn; name and address of the parent or person surrendering the newborn; birth place of the newborn; newborn’s medical history; newborn’s biological family’s medical history including major illness and diseases; the surrendering person’s desire with regard to reclaiming the newborn; and any other information that might be necessary for the department to determine the best interests of the infant. However, the person cannot be compelled to provide the information, and safe haven locations may not refuse to accept a newborn if the person does not provide the requested information.
The infant’s mother has not been identified. Assuming no parent or relative comes forward, DHS officials say the newborn will be taken into foster custody, pending a hearing in Family Court as early as next week.
Honolulu police say the 21-year-old woman who found the baby is not a suspect at this time.
According to HPD, the penalty for endangering the welfare of a minor is up to one year in prison, but anyone who surrenders a newborn under the Safe Haven Law will not be prosecuted. DHS officials say since the law has been on the books in 2007, no one has ever used it.