By Dave Andrusko
Every morning, each maintenance worker at the Windmill Lakes Apartment complex in Houston is assigned to pick up trash in a certain area. Tuesday it was Carlos Michel’s turn to clean Building 25.
As he dumped the contents of a bucket into a big dumpster, he heard what “sounded like an animal dying, maybe a kitten, but he couldn’t tell for sure,” Mayra Beltran wrote for the Houston Chronicle.
All Michel knew for sure was that—whatever it was—it was struggling.
“Seconds later, Michel, 51, reached into the blue dumpster and, hunched over, grabbed a white trash bag. He placed the bag on the ground, ripping it open to find the source – a newborn boy, stuffed among trash and discarded school work. His tiny face and hands were purple, his umbilical cord still attached, his body cold. His soft cries were the only indication he was still alive.
“’I almost had a heart attack,’ Michel said.”
The word “miracle” is often casually tossed around. But that the newborn baby did not suffocate after being bundled into a plastic bag and flopped into a dumpster takes “miracle” to another level.
In riveting detail, Beltran explained what happened Tuesday morning.
When Michel heard the baby’s whimpers, Beltran wrote,
“He said he used the bucket as a stool and peered into the dumpster, scanning the pizza boxes, soda bottles and fast-food containers before he identified the bag from which the sounds were coming. As he pulled the bag out, Michel noticed the outline of the baby. The child was upside down.
“As soon as he rescued the boy from the trash bag, Michel took off his gray work shirt and swaddled the newborn in it. The baby’s dark hair was wet and sticky, possibly with placenta, and his body was cold.
“Michel brought the child to his chest, rubbing the baby’s back, trying to use his own body heat to warm the boy.
“A co-worker then came by in pickup, and Michel hopped inside the truck’s cab, turning up the heat to further warm the baby. The newborn’s cheeks turned rosy as his body warmed. Michel said he could see the newborn’s little chest bouncing with hiccups.
“As Michel rocked him, he thought of his own 2-month-old grandson, Gerardo. The baby’s whimpers reminded him of the cries Gerardo sometimes made. But not once did the newborn wail. He just lay still, cradled in Michel’s arms, not ever opening his eyes.”
“At some points, it even seemed as though the newborn was falling asleep. Afraid that the child was too weak, Michel poked him to keep him conscious while they waited for paramedics to arrive.
“’I didn’t want him to die in my arms,’ he said.”
Estella Olguin, a spokeswoman for Child Protection Services, said Michel undoubtedly saved the newborn’s life.
Authorities quickly located the baby’s 16-year-old mother and questioned her. As of yesterday, police had said nothing about her motivations.
“Once she has been released from the hospital, investigators will speak with officials at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to determine what, if any, charges will be filed,” Beltran wrote.
Texas has a “Baby Moses” law which allows parents to leave infants up to 60 days old and unharmed at a hospital, fire station or ambulance station without fear of prosecution. The law was created in 1999 so that newborns and infants would not be abandoned.
“Really, surrendering your baby to a safe haven site gives your baby a chance,” Olguin told Beltran.