HOBBS, N.M. – On Saturday, New Mexico received its first baby surrendered to a Safe Haven Baby Box at Fire Station 1 in Hobbs.
“We received a notification from our baby box via text message that the baby box door had been opened,” said Mark Doporto, interim chief of the Hobbs Fire Department. “About 30 seconds later, we received a second notification that an item had been placed in the baby box. After a two-minute delay, Station 1 was dispatched.”
Doporto credited the baby box for saving the newborn boy’s life that day.
“With this being the first use in New Mexico, I just have to say, what a tremendous thing that this baby was safe, placed in the baby box, and is now in the proper care,” Doporto said.
Over the last two years, three babies in New Mexico have been found in dumpsters and hospitals.
In January 2022, then-18-year-old Alexis Avila was caught on security video tossing her newborn baby boy into a garbage dumpster. The video was located after people digging through the dumpster discovered the baby and called 911. He survived his injuries and is now in the care of other relatives. Avila was sentenced to 18 years in prison on May 1, 2023, with two years suspended. The result is 16 years, and she gets credit for time served.
The Artesia Police Department (APD) said in January 2023, 19-year-old Alexee Trevizo had a baby in a bathroom and left her newborn in the trash can at Artesia General Hospital. The baby was found dead by hospital staff. On May 10, 2023, APD arrested Trevizo and charged her with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence. Trevizo is scheduled to go to trial in August 2024.
Most recently on September 13, 2023, the Hobbs Police Department (HPD) said it was investigating after an infant was found dead in the bathroom of a hospital room occupied by a 16-year-old girl at Covenant Health Hobbs Hospital. The teen’s mother was with her when she was being treated. HPD said the baby’s body has since been sent to the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque for an autopsy. There are no arrests or charges that have been released so far. This is an ongoing investigation.
“The recent tragedy tragedies that have taken place across New Mexico were major motivators to the baby box coming to Hobbs,” Doporto said.
Once the door to the baby box closes, it can’t be reopened. State officials said the Safe Haven Baby Boxes are placed in a specific location without cameras to allow the person dropping off the baby to remain anonymous.
“What we’re trying to give the young ladies is the opportunity and the idea that if something critical happens, you don’t have to fear,” said New Mexico state Sen. David Gallegos (R). “Most of what we do wrong is fear-based. If we can love them and cherish them, we win on both. We keep the mom healthy, and we keep the child healthy. The other opportunity, one of them loses their life and it’s not always the baby.”
The newborn baby boy was taken to Covenant Health Hobbs Hospital and received a full examination. Officials said he was in good health. The infant is now in the custody of the Children, Youth & Families Department.
“This can’t be an easy decision for anyone involved,” Doporto said. “I couldn’t be happier that someone decided to use this baby box for the best outcome for this child.”
Under the New Mexico Safe Haven for Infants Act, you can bring a baby up to 3 months old to any Safe Haven site in New Mexico without judgment or punishment. There are currently two locations in the state.
- Española Fire Department (806 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park Rd., Española, NM 87532)
- Hobbs Fire Station #1 (301 E White St., Hobbs, NM 88240)
“I’m overjoyed that the baby’s life was spared,” Gallegos said. “It’s important to see that this process works. The fear is what puts the babies in the trash can. The safe haven box is supposed to give them security. If there’s a baby that is safe and healthy, we win.”
Since the rollout of Safe Haven Baby Boxes back in 2017, this now makes 36 infants who have been surrendered in one of the boxes across the country. Gallegos said the state is working to install baby boxes in at least eight other communities.