‘Strong little girl:’ Newborn found abandoned in cold outdoors, Polk sheriff says

Baby located on hill near mobile home park

A newborn baby, just an hour old, was found abandoned by Polk County deputies early Saturday near Mulberry, according to sheriff’s officials.

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – A newborn baby, just an hour old, was found abandoned by Polk County deputies early Saturday near Mulberry, according to sheriff’s officials.

Deputies made their way to the Mulberry area around 1:47 a.m., reaching a small hill near a mobile home park on Regel Loop to find the baby girl wrapped in a blanket, according to a news release.

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Medics with Polk County Fire Rescue estimated the baby had been born approximately an hour earlier based on the girl’s body temperature. At the time, temperatures in the area were in the lower 50s, according to the sheriff’s office.

The girl was taken to a hospital — where she was reported to be healthy and stable at last check — as deputies canvassed the area looking for the mother; though a K-9 unit, aviation unit and a bloodhound aided the door-knocking deputies in their search, those efforts have so far not been fruitful, the release describes.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd thanked the Lord that the girl fared well.

“It was by the Grace of God that we found the abandoned baby girl when we did, before exposure to the cold or any animals caused her any harm. She was left in an extremely vulnerable condition, but she’s a strong little girl, and it looks like she’s doing great,” Judd said in a statement.

Earlier this month, a parent anonymously surrendered a baby boy at a Safe Haven Baby Box at Ocala Fire Rescue Station #1. The baby box is the only one in Florida out of 134 in the nation.

“I’m thankful that Ocala was proactive and had that box available for this parent who obviously did not want anyone to know their identity in the beginning of the month,” Monica Kelsey said.

Kelsey, who was abandoned as an infant, founded Safe Haven Baby Boxes. She said the Safe Haven Law in Florida has been around for 22 years, which allows parents to leave their newborns, not more than a week old, at any hospital, fire station, or EMS station anonymously.

Despite the resources available, Kelsey says it’s about educating all communities.

“I think more needs to be done in the State of Florida for education and awareness in high schools. colleges, and middle schools across the state,” she said.

To reach the National Safe Haven hotline, you can call 888-510-2229. And if you would like to reach a 24-hour hotline for Safe Haven Baby Boxes, you can call 1-866-99BABY1.

Anyone with information about the baby’s mother was urged to call the sheriff’s office at 863-298-6200.

Note: Due to the information provided, this map depicts the general area of where the baby was found and not necessarily the exact location.

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About the Authors:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!