A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy holding a baby that was buried alive in a crevice in the Los Angeles riverbed. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy holding a baby that was buried alive in a crevice in the Los Angeles riverbed. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Detectives continued searching Wednesday for the mother of a newborn girl who was found buried alive near Compton Creek last week.

“I knew what I was hearing as I (was) digging in the hole. I still didn’t believe it. It was more of a disbelief,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Colette said of his initial thoughts at the scene where the baby was found. “When I’m holding the baby, looking down on it, I’m going, ‘The baby’s fine, it’s going to be OK. … I think the baby definitely had a touch of God that day.”

“I can still picture the baby’s face as if I’m holding it right now,” said Colette, the father of two daughters. “It was a miracle.”

He said he thought the baby may not have been found if she hadn’t been crying as two women passed by the area between 136th Street and Slater Avenue around 4 p.m. Friday. They called 911 after hearing the noise.

Deputy David Perry, who also was on hand for the baby’s rescue, said he he’s hopeful she will have a good future.

The baby is doing fine, but there is still no leads on the identity of the mother, Deputy Mike Barraza said early this morning.

“We’re asking the public’s help to find her,” he said.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the baby was found wrapped in what appeared to be a hospital blanket in a hole filled with loose dirt, vegetation and two pieces of asphalt. The girl was cold to the touch and was taken to a hospital, where she remains stable and under observation.

“In this case, we’re extremely lucky,” McDonnell said. “Two women heard the baby and happened to pass by. If they were not alert or had not called for help, we may have lost this precious life.”

The sheriff said medical professionals have surmised the baby likely would not have survived the cold temperatures if she had been left there overnight.

Sheriff’s Detective Jennifer Valenzuela, who was called to the scene that day, said she thinks everyone was a little surprised at how well the newborn was doing when they saw her.

“She had a strong will to live …,” the detective said. “Somebody heard her cry and it was a loud cry, so, you know, it’s basically a miracle.”

Authorities are investigating all of the leads that are coming in about the baby, who may be Hispanic or black, she said.

The baby is believed to have been between 24 and 36 hours old at the time of the discovery, and is now believed to be about four or five days old, the detective said.

“As far as the mother, there (are) a lot of questions that are unanswered,” Valenzuela said. “We are pleading with the public. Someone needs to speak out.”

Philip Browning, director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services, said the agency will be looking for a foster home for the girl.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe also called the girl’s rescue “a miracle” and said it “could have been an absolute tragedy if it were not the quick-thinking actions of some concerned citizens and the incredible response of our sheriff’s department.”

He noted that 16 babies have been turned in since the beginning of the year in conjunction with the Safe Surrender program, in which a parent or legal guardian is allowed to turn over a newborn at designated sites such as fire and police stations or hospital emergency rooms.

Detectives from the sheriff’s department’s Special Victims Bureau asked anyone with information regarding the newborn to call them at (877) 710-5273.

—City News Service

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