Donations Pour in for Napa Bridge Baby

Homeless woman delivers boy under bridge then disappears

Saturday, Apr 17, 2010  |  Updated 10:24 AM PDT
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A pile of rags under the bridge marks the spot where a homeless woman gave birth to a baby boy. A passerby saw what was happening and called for help.

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The story sounds like a tale from the Great Depression. A homeless woman gives birth to a baby under a bridge in tough economic times then disappears.

But the birth happened during the waning of Great Recession, around 6:45 p.m. Monday under the Soscol Bridge between First and Third streets in downtown Napa.

April Johnson was alone when her son was born but another homeless person notified a passerby that a homeless woman had just given birth. The Napa Fire Department responded and took Johnson and her son to Queen of the Valley Medical Center. Johnson has not been seen since.

The happy ending is that Napa city and county residents are donating items and money for the baby to social services agencies. So many items have poured in, another group has joined the collection effort.

As of Friday, the baby was still at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, said John Pearson, treasurer of the Foster Kids Fund that is accepting the donations. The organization stepped in to help handle donations because so many people were offering gifts, the firefighters association couldn't handle all of them.

Under California's Safe Surrender Baby Law allows a parent or legal guardian to confidentially surrender an infant three days old or younger to any hospital emergency room. Both the parent and baby receive an identification bracelet.

There will be no prosecution as long as the baby has not been abused or neglected. The baby will receive treatment and will be placed in an  adoptive home.

The law also allows a 14-day cooling off period starting the day the child was surrendered. During this time, the person who surrendered the child can return and reclaim it.

"We don't know where the mom is," Pearson said. "This is a little out of the ordinary," he said.

The last time a mother surrendered an infant in Napa was about four years ago at a fire station, Perez said.

People wishing to donate items for the baby may send them to  Foster Kids Fund, P.O. Box 5211, Napa, Ca. 94581.

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