A heartbreaking story of survival is unfolding after a Good Samaritan discovered an infant abandoned inside of a Lawrence trash compactor early Thursday morning.
Cindy Quick lives at the Country Club on 6th apartment complex near Sixth and Iowa streets. Quick says she was cleaning out a carpet cleaner at one of the dumpsters when she heard a baby crying just after 2 a.m.
“I started throwing trash bags out because I could hear her crying,” she said.
Quick says the 9-month-old baby girl was buried under about four to five black trash bags.
“She had bug bites. She was crying. I mean, she was hysterical. She had red hair, her ears were pierced,” Quick described.
Jerrad Jury says he heard Quick’s cries for help and helped rescue the 9-month-old girl.
“She felt relief, the baby did,” Jury said. “Just having somebody there.”
Jury says he and a friend took one look at the baby’s head injuries and rushed her straight to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
“She had dried blood on her nose and she had a pretty good bump on her head,” he said.
Now, the child is in serious condition at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
The Lawrence apartment complex where the infant was found is filled with families who woke up to police lights and pandemonium, all surrounding a trash compactor where the infant was rescued.
“We don’t know at that point if the baby was dead or if the baby was alive,” said Sara Dooley, whose curiosity quickly turned to panic.
Lawrence police refused to answer questions about the infant’s parents and what could have motivated someone to leave a child inside the steel compactor.
“Lawrence police detectives have contacted the family and they are actively investigating the case. Due to the sensitive and serious nature of this case, we will not be providing any further information at this time,” Sgt. Amy Rhoads said.
Neighbors say a man who was fighting with the infant’s mother is the one who put the baby in the dumpster.
“The mom and the dad were arguing which seems to be an everyday kind of event with them,” Dooley said.
Another neighbor, who knows the infants parents, mournfully stood by his own children trying to reason with what happened.
“I feel really bad. I’m just glad that they got found the baby, and it is still alive to get the baby to a hospital to have a chance,” he said.
Police have contacted the child’s family but refused to say if they were suspects.
“I hope that they get justice for that baby, that is my biggest concern that they have justice for this baby near my family out of here,” Dooley said.
After the rescue, advocates remind the community that no one has to abandon a baby. In Missouri and Kansas, parents can take a child who is 45 days old or younger to a Safe Haven and not face prosecution.
“Anybody who finds themselves in a desperate situation, there is an alternative to abandoning a baby. No one ever has to abandon an infant. They can take the baby to a Safe Haven location,” said Anne Biswell, communications coordinator for Mother and Child Health Coalition.
Safe Haven locations in Missouri include hospitals, ambulance, fire or police stations, maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers. In Kansas, those locations include hospitals, police or fire stations and city and county health departments. Those locations are Safe Havens when staff are present.