TROUP COUNTY, Ga. — Authorities are working to identify a baby who was found dead Sunday afternoon in Troup County.
Troup County sheriff’s deputies were called to Boy Scout Road off New Franklin Road about 3:20 p.m. after someone found the baby’s body in a cooler on the side of the road.
Witnesses told authorities that the cooler, a zippered bag on wheels with watermelon print, had been sitting there for up to a week. Investigators are working to find the owner of the cooler.
“Once on scene, deputies and investigators discovered what appeared to be a deceased newborn child in a portable cooler bag,” sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Stewart Smith said in a news release.
The GBI is scheduled to perform an autopsy Tuesday, which may provide investigators with clues as to how the child died.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Troup County Sheriff's Office at 706-883-1616. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000, by contacting Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website.
Police and child advocates say birth parents who are unable to care for a newborn have a number of safe options, and it’s important to ask for help.
In Georgia, a safe haven law allows mothers of newborns up to 7 days old to drop off the child at a medical facility without fear of prosecution for abandoning the infant.
Georgia's law is based on the Safe Place for Newborns Act, enacted by the General Assembly in 2002.
According to the Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services: “A medical facility would include any licensed hospital, county health center or a licensed birthing center. A medical facility does not include a private doctor’s office or a dentist. Police and Fire stations are not included under the provisions of the Safe Place for Newborns Act.”
The law also requires that the newborn must be left in the physical custody of an on-duty employee, agent or member of the staff of a medical facility. This person may be either in a paid or a volunteer position with the facility. The mother is also encouraged to provide her name and address to the person receiving the child.
“The law sends a message of safety and a message of protection,” said Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur. “We know women in very frightening and vulnerable situations give birth outside hospitals and are not prepared in that particular hour to care for that baby, and we want frightened mothers to feel safe, and for them to have a safe place for the baby; and they shouldn’t have to feel threatened or feel they will be arrested or detained.”
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