Just hours before rain and thunderstorms passed through north Georgia on Thursday night, an hours-old newborn girl was discovered abandoned along an isolated stretch of roadway in southeast Forsyth.
At about 10 p.m., local residents that were returning home from a trip heard sounds that they believed to be a baby crying coming from the woods near their home on Dave’s Creek Road and chose to investigate.
According to Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman, the residents found a child partially wrapped in a plastic grocery bag, with no blanket or clothing, and immediately called 911, potentially "saving the child's life."
Once emergency responders arrived on scene, Freeman said that the child was rushed to a local hospital where it was found to be in a good, stable condition.
The child, a white or Hispanic female, has been placed into the custody of the Georgia Department of Family and Children's Services and has been given the temporary name India by hospital staff, authorities say.
At a press conference held Friday, Freeman said that the Sheriff’s Office has launched a full investigation to discover how and why the child was abandoned, and to hopefully locate its mother, who they believe could need assistance.
“We want to understand and find out how this baby was abandoned in the wood line there,” he said. “It is without a doubt divine intervention that this child was found. Had it not been for those observant folks ... who called 911, we would be having a much different conversation today.”
Freeman also said that this incident underscores the importance of Georgia’s lesser-known “safe haven law” which allows mothers to surrender their baby at a hospital, fire station or police station up to 30 days after its birth.
"As long as they turn it over to a person, a live human being, they cannot be charged with abandonment cruelty to children," he said. "It is a way to make sure that a child like this is safely cared for.”
According to the case’s lead investigator, Detective Tim Conner, the Sheriff’s Office is looking for any information that might shed some light on this incident or help them find the child’s parents.
Specifically, Conner said that they are asking the public for help finding a female who may have been in the late stages of her pregnancy on Thursday and who may now inexplicably not have a child.
"We need the public's help in identifying this child and the mother of this child," he said. “We're trying to determine how this happened to this child, and we have some concerns for the health of the mother as well."
Anyone with information on this incident can reach the Sheriff's Office by calling (770) 781-3087. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call the Sheriff’s Office’s anonymous tip line at (770) 888-7308.