Updated 01/25/11 – 4:45 p.m.
MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (WBBM/CBS) — The wife of a Merrillville, Ind., police officer is being credited with saving the life of a newborn baby.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports, Angie Croarkin and her husband, Officer Gerald Croarkin, had just returned home late Friday night when Angie went outside to smoke a cigarette around 7:50 p.m.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports
Indiana, like Illinois, has a “Safe Haven” law that allows parents to drop off newborn babies at hospitals, police stations or fire stations, no questions asked.
Instead, someone took a gamble and left this baby on Angela Croarkin’s doorstep and got very lucky.
“I had to push the box out of the way,” Croarkin said. She had stepped out to have a smoke on a very cold Friday night when she found the mysterious box and called her husband.
“He actually jumped back,” she added. “I’ll never forget the look on his face as long as I live. He said ‘Oh my God Angela, there’s a baby in here.’”
As a mother of four, Croarkin said she knew baby girl had to be a newborn.
“It wasn’t discarded,” she said. “It was put there for us to find, in my opinion.”
While outside, she found a newborn baby girl on her front porch. The baby was swaddled in a hooded sweatshirt, with a red bandanna wrapped around her head and her umbilical cord still attached.
The infant, a Caucasian weighing five pounds, 15 ounces and 18 inches long with dark hair and rosy cheeks, was taken to Methodist Hospital Southlake campus in Merrillville, where she appears to be in good condition, according to Merrillville police Detective Lt. Jeffrey Snemis. He said the baby was probably born sometime Friday night.
Gerald Croarkin said the baby couldn’t have been left in the elements for more than 15 minutes, judging by the time the couple returned home from dining out to when his wife went outside to smoke a cigarette.
“It was an act of fate,” Croarkin said. “I don’t think God wanted the baby to go that way.”
At the Merrillville, Ind., police station where he works, Gerald Croarkin made an appeal to the parents on Tuesday.
“I encourage them to come forward. Down the road it’s going to mean a lot to you. You still have time to come forward and make this right,” he said.
Merrillville Police Det. George Fields said, “We’re also concerned about the mother, too, if she could be having complications from the pregnancy if she did this on her own.”
Detectives said that about 50 people have called, asking to adopt the baby. And although their encounter was short – only 7 or 8 minutes – Angela Croarkin said she feels a connection to the little girl.
“I’m thankful that we found her alive. And the emotions of seeing that little bundle, that sweet little thing in a box, finding her that way, yeah, there’s an emotional tie,” she said.
The Croarkins were very lucky to find the baby in time. She was wrapped in a blanket and bandana, but it was well below freezing that night.
The Croakins said that it was so cold that their doorbell was frozen. They said they’ve been wondering if the person who dropped off the baby tried to ring the doorbell before leaving.
Snemis said there is a possibility neglect charges could be filed, but added they are more interested in finding the baby’s parents for health reasons and to see if they want the baby put up for adoption.
“This is possibly a young mother who placed the baby in someone’s care who they trusted, [Croarkin] being a police officer. We’re willing to sit down and talk with the mother,” Snemis said.
The girl is being called “Baby Olivia.”
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.