UNION CITY - Police this morning are continuing to investigate the death of a newborn girl whose body was discovered late Monday inside an apartment complex Dumpster with her umbilical cord still attached.
An autopsy is set to be performed this morning to help authorities determine a cause of death, but it was not clear if the results of the tests would be released.
The girl was discovered about 8:40 p.m. at the Parkside Apartments at 1501 Decoto Road by a man who was digging through the rubbish bin for recyclables, Lt. Kelly Musgrove said. The man, who spoke Spanish only, alerted another person nearby and that person called police.
When officers arrived, they confirmed that there was a dead child in the Dumpster, cordoned off the neighborhood and alerted the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau.
"There was a rumor that a few of the ladies at the complex were pregnant," he said, noting that investigators immediately contacted them and determined they were still pregnant.
Authorities then combed the surrounding neighborhood for clues, but were not able to find any.
The coroner removed the body at 1:40 a.m. and took it to pathologists in Oakland, where the autopsy is set to be performed today.
Musgrove said investigators are now working with administrators at nearby James Logan High School to see if any students have any knowledge of the incident.
"We're very lucky in a sense because we know that Dumpster was emptied
earlier that day," the lieutenant said."It's possible this infant could have wound up elsewhere."
He went on to say that it's a tragic incident that could have been avoided because the police and fire departments are nearby.
Under California's Safely Surrendered Baby Law, mothers of newborn children may surrender their child to designated places-- including police and fire stations -- within 72 hours of birth if they believe they cannot handle the child.
"It's kind of a tragedy because the police and fire departments are right down the street. Those could have been viable options," he said. "It's possible they may not have known about the law."
California State Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico (D-Newark), whose constituents include residents of Union City, said in a prepared statement today that the incident was another example of the importance of spreading the word about the Safely Surrendered Baby Law.
"The discovery of this abandoned baby is another tragic example of how California must do more to enhance its Safe Surrender law to protect newborns and prevent more tragedies from occurring," said Torrico, who for three years has been pushing legislation to increase the length of time a mother has to surrender her child.
"No baby should suffer or be tossed aside like a piece of garbage when there are sensible, safe and anonymous ways to safely surrender a newborn."
Over the last two years, Torrico-sponsored bills proposing a extension of the timeline for surrendering a child have passed both the state Senate and Assembly, only to be vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Torrico is again pushing legislation about the issue this year. One bill is proposing that mothers be given up to a month to surrender their child, while another bill would provide state money to help raise public awareness of the law.
"Safe surrender is a worthy program that has saved hundreds of lives in California," Torrico said. "With expanded outreach, more time to safely surrender a newborn, and clearer guidelines, I am convinced more lives can be saved in the future."
The infant found late Monday is the second one discovered in Tri-City area trash cans in the last three years.
In January 2006, a boy less than 5 days old was discovered dead inside a garbage bin outside a Jack In The Box in Newark. Authorities still have not found the child's parents.
Union City police Lt. Ben Horner said early Monday he cannot recall ever seeing a case such as this in his city.
"I've worked here for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this," Horner said, speaking about the type of case.