Manchester, NH – A newborn baby left in the woods in below-freezing temperatures by his mother in the middle of the night was rescued by first responders after a lengthy search and is expected to survive.
The Manchester Police Department (MPD) said officers responded to a wooded area near the West Side Arena at approximately 12:40 a.m. on Dec. 26 after receiving a report of a “woman who had given birth to a baby in the woods,” the Boston Herald reported.
Investigators said they spoke with the child’s mother, 26-year-old Alexandra Eckersley, who allegedly directed them to a location where she claimed to have left the newborn.
Police, firefighters, and American Medical Response personnel searched the area for about an hour, but they were unable to locate the baby, the Boston Herald reported.
Investigators later said Eckersley had intentionally led them away from the child, according to WCVB.
“After nearly an hour, the mother revealed the true location of the baby and led officers to the area,” the MPD said.
Police said they found the newborn lying naked and uncovered inside a large makeshift tent, WMUR reported.
The tent had a heat source, but it had allegedly been shut off and was not running when the child was found, according to investigators.
Medical personnel said the baby was suffering from hypothermia and struggling to breathe, WCVB reported.
“The search was difficult,” Manchester Fire District Chief John Starr later told the news outlet. “It was dark, we had cold temperatures – about 18 degrees last night – and we were not getting accurate information [from Eckersley].”
Rescue crews hiked the baby boy out of the woods and treated him at the scene before he was transported to a local hospital for additional medical care.
The MPD said the baby is expected to survive, the Boston Herald reported.
“Thankfully, they found the child in time to get to a hospital,” Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg told WCVB. “The child is doing well – that’s because of the firefighters, police officers, and paramedics. They’re the reason why this child is alive.”
Eckersley, the daughter of Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and former Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley, was arrested on a felony reckless conduct charge for allegedly abandoning her infant and placing him at further risk of death by misleading investigators as to his whereabouts, according to police.
She was also arrested on an unrelated outstanding warrant out of Concord District Court for endangering the welfare of a child, WMUR reported.
Under New Hampshire’s Safe Haven Law, babies up to the age of seven days may be left in the care of someone at a church, police station, fire hall, or hospital with no questions asked, according to WCVB.
“There is no excuse for this,” Chief Aldenberg said. “If you choose to live in the woods and choose to live your life a particular way, and you don’t want accept our outreach that on goes every day in this city — and you want to live out there and do that with your life — fine. But you don’t get to do this, what we’re alleging here. You don’t get to do this to a child.”