A newborn tossed down a housing project's trash chute survived the eight-story fall because he landed on a pile of garbage and the compactor was jammed, investigators said Monday.
A maintenance worker heard a baby boy's cries coming from the trash compactor in the Walt Whitman Houses on Sunday morning. The child was taken to Brooklyn Hospital where he remains in stable condition, said Jerry Schmetterer, spokesman for the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. He said the baby did not appear to have been injured in the fall.
Laquasia Wright, 18, was arrested on charges of attempted murder and endangering the welfare of a child. Police said it appeared Wright had given birth shortly before tossing the baby. She was also being treated at Brooklyn Hospital on Monday and it was unclear when her arraignment would take place.
A man who answered the phone at Wright's home declined to comment, and no lawyer information was immediately available.
A large amount of trash had collected in the compactor room over the weekend, which likely cushioned the baby's landing, police said.
"The garbage probably saved that baby's life," said longtime resident Deborah Lewis, 61.
Neighbors said Wright lived with her mother and other relatives in the building. Police said she was hiding the pregnancy.
"It's a shame because she's a very sweet child," Lewis said. "She was probably scared to death."
Administration for Children's Services spokeswoman Elysia Murphy said the agency was investigating along with police. In a situation like this, the city normally takes custody of a child while it makes long-term care arrangements. The agency will explore whether a relative or someone close to the family would be an appropriate caregiver.
"The decision will be made based on what we believe will keep the child safe," Murphy said.
The baby was discovered two weeks after another newborn was rescued from the trash in a hospital restroom in Queens. That baby was found alive and hospitalized but died on May 18. The mother, Dawa Lama, 23 was already facing charges of assault, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child. A grand jury is now considering upgrading those charges, according to the Queens district attorney's office.
A state law called the Abandoned Infant Protection Act gives parents up to 30 days to leave a newborn in a hospital, police precinct, firehouse or other safe location. If the baby is not injured and the parent is not suspected of a crime and promptly notifies the authorities, he or she can leave the baby anonymously and without fear of prosecution.