‘Shocking’: DeKalb custodian recalls finding abandoned baby in bag

"Miracle Child" Found In Gym Bag

Horace Thomas’ job is a quiet one. The 64-year-old works nights with a small cleaning crew with a couple of family members, and five times a week, Family Medical Clinic in Chamblee is on the list.

But shortly after midnight Thursday morning, in the darkened office, Thomas heard something as he cleaned the front windows. It was coming from a zipped blue bag on the floor, and in a moment, he realized it sounded like crying.

“It’s a baby in that bag!” he hollered in shock.

He dialed 911 and waited as police arrived and pulled out the abandoned newborn boy, who was wrapped in a sweatshirt. The umbilical cord was still dangling, the placenta still coating his body.

He was tiny, just 4.86 pounds, and appeared premature. But he was alive.

As it happened, the officer who picked him up was Beth Frye, a veteran of the city police department, who in 2013 saved the life of a baby who was born not breathing. She’s also had to deliver babies in the field, Lt. Jason Waasdorp told reporters while detailing the latest case.

Chamblee police officer Beth Frye with the newborn boy found in a gym bag in Chamblee. The baby is doing OK.
Chamblee police officer Beth Frye with the newborn boy found in a gym bag in Chamblee. The baby is doing OK.

Credit: WSB-TV

Credit: WSB-TV

Frye took the boy from bag to the bathroom and placed him in the sink to look him over. An ambulance arrived after another officer flagged it down nearby. Workers cut the cord, quickly rushing off to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.

From surveillance footage and interviews, police determined that the child must’ve been at the clinic in the bag for about 18 hours.

Dr. Sudah Challa, who runs the Buford Highway clinic, had seen the bag outside at about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, but apparently thought nothing of it, a police report said.

A worker told police she found the bag on top of a box outside around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

She opened it and saw clothes. She heard nothing and figured a client left their gym clothes. She brought it inside from the weather, which had cooled since the day before to around 70.

Employees told police they heard nothing before locking up and leaving for the night. The clinic closes at 6 p.m.

The child remained in the hospital Thursday, in the custody of the Division of Family and Children Services.

“He’s doing great,” Waasdrop said, breifing reporters at the police department. “He took his first bottle this morning.”

Chamblee police say this newborn boy was left at a clinic.
Chamblee police say this newborn boy was left at a clinic.

The lieutenant said detectives are trying to locate the parents, or whoever left the child. They are likely to face charges of child cruelty by neglect, Waasdrop said.

Which is sad, he said, because Georgia has a “safe haven” law that allows a legal way to abandon newborns.

The law gives up to seven days for mothers to leave a child with a worker at a medical facility, so long as the mother gives her name and other information. The law, enacted in 2002, makes no mention of fathers.

As police investigate, those who crossed the baby’s path are still processing it.

“It’s shocking,” Thomas told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, thinking back on seeing the boy emerge from the bag.

He’s told a few people about what happened. Everyone keeps saying it was good he was there to find the baby. Employees at the clinic were amazed the child survived 18 hours in the bag without any sustanance or attention.

How much longer could he have made it?

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