JERSEY CITY — The El Patron Mexican Restaurant in Jersey City may not be police station, fire house, or hospital, but for the 14-year old girl in need, the eatery was a safe haven.
The teen, seen on video, was carrying a newborn baby, wrapped in a towel; she frantically approached restaurant owner Frankie Aguilar Wednesday afternoon.
“This girl comes in asking for help,” he said. “Really, like desperate eyes, asking ‘somebody,’ like, pleading, ‘can you help me?’ She was asking for the firefighters. It was a very dangerous situation.”
Dangerous because, as Aguilar said, it was later discovered that the teen was the child’s mother.
At the time, though, all diner Alease Scott knew, as she sat down eating her lunch, was that the baby needed help – fast.
“When I saw the baby’s head,” she said, “I was like, ‘whoa, that’s a baby!'”
The teen told Scott that she needed help.
“That’s when I stood up and walked over to her, and said, ‘is it possible for me to take the baby’s vitals?'” Scott said.
The teen handed the baby over, and Scott began to check the child.
She said, then, the 14-year-old began to quickly leave.
“At first, I said to myself, ‘well, let me get your name, if you’re just gonna drop the baby off,’ because she said she was in a rush, that she had to pick up another child.”
Scott just happens to be a mother of two grown sons, and a veteran, CPR and first aid-trained preschool teacher.
When the police arrived, the officers deferred to Scott, as she applied their oxygen mask to the baby’s tiny face.
Scott’s boyfriend, Walter Cocca, recorded part of the encounter on Facebook Live.
“At first it was unreal. Then it became heartbreaking. It broke my heart. Just to think of the fact that this baby now has no parents,” he said.
Restauraunt owner Aguilar said he’s grateful he was in the right place at the right time.
“I’m glad that she chose us, because she could have chosen any other option,” he said, things he didn’t want to think about. “But instead, she said — as a 14-year-old girl who had the mental capacity to come in and say, you know what — this baby needs a chance.”
The baby was taken to a local hospital, and is healthy.
As for the 14-year old mother, she’s not facing any criminal charges.
As a reminder, New Jersey has a safe haven law; parents in need can bring newborns 30 days and younger to a fire house, police station, or hospital, with no questions asked, and no criminal charges.