MECCA, Calif. - An autopsy is expected to be performed Wednesday on a newborn baby found dead on a playground in a Mecca park. Police arrested Esmeralda Martinez, the baby's mother. The Thermal woman faces charges of voluntary manslaughter and willful harm to a child. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.
While it's not clear what happened, the baby's death serves as a reminder that there is a program for individuals who don't believe they can care for his or her child. It's called "Safe Surrender."
California created the Safely Surrendered Baby Law in 2001 to save newborn babies from dying after being abandoned. The program provides places people can go to give up their child-- no questions asked.
Safe surrender sites are typically located at approved hospitals and fire stations. They are specifically marked with a blue and white logo.
"We can accept the baby and make sure it gets medical attention it needs and also provide a future for that baby rather than to discard the baby somewhere," said Cal Fire Captain, Fernando Herrera.
As of July, 83 babies have been safely surrendered this year.
"It's a service that may be needed for whatever reason. It is a safe surrender place," added Herrera.
It is important to know that under this law no name or signature is required to surrender a baby. If the parent changes their mind, they have 14 days to get their baby back. To find a safe surrender site near you, contact 211 for more information.