HOBBS, New Mexico (KMID/KPEJ)- The City of Hobbs held a news conference Monday after a newborn baby boy was safely left inside a Safe Haven Baby Box, located at 301 W White Street, last weekend.
A City spokesperson said around noon on September 23, crews at Fire Station 1 responded to the safety alarm which notified staff, key personnel, and dispatch as soon as the compartment door closed. The infant was then immediately taken to Covenant Health Hospital to be examined and receive medical treatment; fire station staff said the newborn was healthy and well cared for when it was found.
The City immediately came under fire for announcing that a baby had been surrendered; in a news conference Monday, City leaders said the purpose for the announcement was three-fold:
- To show that the box worked exactly as it was designed
- To remind the community that the box is available 24/7
- To say, publicly, how “proud” the people of Hobbs are that the surrendering parent chose to keep their baby safe
Through a spokesperson, Baby Box founder Monica Kelsey said, ” We honor her anonymity…we are proud of you for keeping your child safe.”
City leaders said they will not be investigating the incident.
Under New Mexico law, all police stations, fire departments, and hospitals are considered to be safe haven sites and will accept an infant, up to 90 days old, with no criminal repercussions for the surrendering parent as long as that parent first notifies staff that they are leaving- surrendering parents cannot leave their baby alone. David Gallegos, a Republican Senator serving New Mexico’s 41st District, announced earlier this year that he will re-introduce legislation to help protect at-risk babies, as well as the parents leaving an infant behind.
The announcement came one year after a newborn named “Saul” was abandoned by his teenaged mother in a dumpster in Hobbs in January of 2022. The newborn survived several hours in the cold dumpster, wrapped in a plastic bag, before he was rescued by three people who were “dumpster diving”. The legislation, backed by Gallegos, would amend the Safe Haven Act to allow for the installation of baby boxes in all 33 New Mexico counties.
The boxes are equipped with ventilation and heat regulation, and a silent alarm to alert the rescue team. As it stands currently, the use of baby boxes is not permitted in New Mexico under the Safe Haven Act, but that has not stopped officials in Hobbs from embracing the life-saving box.
“I’m overjoyed that the baby’s life was spared this weekend,” Gallegos said. “We need to celebrate the mother because she did the right thing.”
There is one other location in the state, at the Española Fire Station located at 806 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park Road, Española, New Mexico. A third is expected to be installed in the state on October 24.