A woman has been arrested for allegedly leaving her premature newborn at a campsite in New Hampshire to die.
Alexandra Eckersley has been charged with felony assault, lying to authorities, and endangering the welfare of a child, after Manchester Police say she gave birth and left the baby behind. Eckersley called 911 to report what was described as a “pregnancy problem,” according to the Manchester Fire Department. Upon arriving, they found Eckersley, who told them she had given birth prematurely in the woods near the West Side Ice Arena.
But then, Eckersley is said to have led officers and emergency personnel in the wrong direction, away from the baby.
After an hour of searching, officials found out the baby had been left in a tent, uncovered, in a homeless encampment. The baby was less than 5lbs, and had been abandoned in the 18-degree cold for over an hour. Miraculously, he survived.
“Had we not collectively located that little boy when we did and rendered the first aid that was rendered, I’m quite confident the child probably would have died in that tent,” Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg told CBS News.
“If you choose to live in the woods, this city, this police department, many city departments, do outreach at these camps daily, seven days a week,” Aldenberg continued. “So if you choose to in the woods and you refuse our outreach, you refuse services, so be it, that’s your decision as an individual. But you don’t get to do this to a child. I don’t care what excuses I’m undoubtedly going to hear. I’m going to hear mental health, I’m going to hear substance abuse, I’m going to hear alcohol abuse, whatever it may be and I’m always sensitive to that. But when it comes to this, I lose my sensitivity, my compassion for those excuses.”
Eckersley allegedly was under the influence of drugs, and afraid she would lose the tent she was living in at the time. Her boyfriend also turned off the propane heating the tank, according to details released at the arraignment. He is expected to face criminal charges as well.
While waiting for an ambulance, Eckersley explained why she abandoned the baby. “What do they tell you to do when a plane goes down? Save yourself first.”
Bail for Eckersley was set at $3,000, and she is not allowed to have any contact with her child. Eckersley is the adopted daughter of famed pitcher and Red Sox announcer Dennis Eckersley. In a statement, they said she has struggled with mental health issues and addiction her entire life.
“We are utterly devastated by the events that unfolded on Christmas night when our daughter Allie delivered a baby while living in a tent,” the statement reads. “It is heartbreaking that a child was born under such unthinkable conditions and in such tragic circumstances. We have always offered Allie a path home, but she has made other choices. We hope Allie now accepts the treatment she desperately needs for her mental health issues.”
Additionally, safe haven advocates are hoping this issue will bring attention to the fact that, under New Hampshire law, a newborn can be safely surrendered to places like fire stations or hospitals.
“We need more young spokespeople everywhere, because I don’t want to see anyone caught in one of these tragedies, simply because there is a lack of awareness,” Maya Harrington, of Baby Safe Haven New England, told CBS News. “If they are ever in a situation where they don’t know what to do, they have these resources and places they can go, so something like what happened this week does not happen again.”
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