NEW YORK – A newborn tossed down a housing project's trash chute survived the eight-story fall because he landed on a pile of garbage and the compactor was jammed, investigators said Monday.
A maintenance worker heard a baby's cries coming from the trash compactor in the Walt Whitman Houses on Sunday morning. The baby was taken to Brooklyn Hospital, where he remains in stable condition, said Jerry Schmetterer, spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney's office. He said the baby did not appear to have been injured in the fall.
Laquasia Wright, 18, was arrested on charges of attempted murder and endangering the welfare of a child. Police said it appeared Wright had given birth shortly before tossing the baby. She was also being treated at Brooklyn Hospital on Monday and it was unclear when her arraignment would take place.
A man who answered the phone at Wright's home declined to comment, and no lawyer information was immediately available.
A large amount of trash had collected in the compactor room over the weekend, which likely cushioned the baby's landing, police said.
"The garbage probably saved that baby's life," said longtime resident Deborah Lewis, 61.
Neighbors said Wright lived with her mother and other relatives in the building. They added that she was heavy-set, which may have made it difficult to notice a baby bump. Police said Wright had hidden the pregnancy.
"It's a shame because she's a very sweet child," Lewis said. "She was probably scared to death."
Another neighbor, Denise Roberts, 22, said Wright seemed worried and upset lately when she saw her outside the building.
"Her face always looked lost," she said.
Roberts' mother, Vicki Cooper, said she was just relieved the baby had survived.
"That was nothing but the Lord to find the baby like that in the garbage," Cooper said.
Administration for Children's Services spokeswoman Elysia Murphy said the agency was investigating, along with police. In such situations, the city normally takes custody of a child while it makes long-term care arrangements. The agency will explore whether a relative or someone close to the family would be an appropriate caregiver.
"The decision will be made based on what we believe will keep the child safe," Murphy said.
The baby was discovered just two weeks after another newborn was rescued from the trash in a hospital restroom in Queens. That baby was found alive and hospitalized but died on May 18. The mother, Dawa Lama, 23 was already facing charges of assault, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child. A grand jury is now considering adding additional charges, according to the Queens district attorney's office.
A state law called the Abandoned Infant Protection Act gives parents up to 30 days to leave a newborn in a hospital, police precinct, firehouse or other safe location. If the baby is not injured and the parent is not suspected of a crime and promptly notifies the authorities, he or she can leave the baby anonymously and without fear of prosecution.
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