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Funeral Held For Abandoned Baby Found In Cooler

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CHICAGO RIDGE, Ill. (CBS) – A funeral service was held Thursday in Chicago Ridge for a baby that was discarded and found in a cooler at a recycling center.

WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports Chicago Ridge police officers carried the tiny casket holding the body of “Jeremiah Michael” was carried in a slow procession into Our Lady of the Ridge Catholic Church.

“There’s no reason for this to ever happen. It’s so beyond sad. It’s just an absolute tragedy that could have been prevented,” said Susan Walker with the group “Rest In His Arms,” a non-profit that arranges funerals for abandoned babies. “This is the 18th baby that I’ve helped to bury since 2005. It’s too many babies. It’s too many.”

Chicago Ridge police officers carry the casket of baby "Jeremiah Michael" into Our Lady of the Ridge Catholic Church for a funeral service. Jeremiah's body was found abandoned in a cooler found on a conveyor belt at a recycling plant on May 1, 2013. (Credit: Mike Krauser/WBBM)

Chicago Ridge police officers carry the casket of baby “Jeremiah Michael” into Our Lady of the Ridge Catholic Church for a funeral service. Jeremiah’s body was found abandoned in a cooler found on a conveyor belt at a recycling plant on May 1, 2013. (Credit: Mike Krauser/WBBM)

Dawn Geras, with the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, said they named the baby Jeremiah Michael. Jeremiah means “God will set him free,” and St. Michael is the patron saint of police.

“I’m angry, I’m frustrated, I’m heartbroken,” Geras said. “I don’t know which emotion is most raw, maybe angry.”

Geras said she’s angry because Jeremiah’s life could have been saved if the parents had followed the “Safe Haven” law, which allows a person to drop off an unwanted infant – 30 days old or younger – at a hospital, police station or firehouse, as has been done 82 times since the law took effect in Illinois in 2001.

In that same time, 70 babies have been abandoned, and 36 did not survive.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said, although Baby Jeremiah was born prematurely, he could have survived with proper post-natal care.

His body was found inside a soft-shell cooler on a conveyor belt at a recycling plant in Chicago Ridge on May 1. Police have said the recycling truck that dumped the cooler there had picked up recycling materials from parts of Wisconsin and the northern suburbs.

Wisconsin also has a Safe Haven Law, although parents in that state have only three days after a baby’s birth to relinquish the child to a hospital, police station, or firehouse if they decide they cannot care for the infant.

So far, there has been no word on the investigation into where the cooler containing Jeremiah’s body was picked up, or who his parents might be.