The family of the woman who allegedly abandoned her premature baby in a tent in the woods of Manchester, New Hampshire, on a cold winter night after Christmas has released a statement expressing shock over the situation and gratitude for first responders.
Alexandra Eckersley, the daughter of Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and longtime Red Sox announcer Dennis Eckersley, faces charges including felony assault and endangering the welfare of a child after the baby was found moving but struggling to breathe in a tent at a homeless encampment.
In a statement Thursday, Eckersley's family said they "had no prior knowledge of Allie's pregnancy."
"It is heartbreaking that a child was born under such unthinkable conditions and in such tragic circumstances," the family said. "We learned with everyone else from news reports what happened and are still in complete shock."
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The family went on to thank the first responders who rescued the baby and the medical workers helping to ensure his safety, adding that a guardianship petition is being filed "so that we may receive information and have decision making with respect to Allie's son."
The family explained that Eckersley has suffered from mental illnesses all her life, and that since she has become an adult, her parents had less recourse to help. The statement also referred to the "broken" mental health care system in New Hampshire and elsewhere.
"We hope Allie now accepts the treatment she desperately needs for her mental health issues," the statement read. "We also hope that all those who have heard this tragic story withhold judgment about our daughter until all the facts come out."
Read the full statement below:
The boy, believed to be born three months early, was 4.4 lbs. and taken to a hospital, officials have said. He survived at least 73 minutes in the 15-degree weather, even while a state police dog was brought in to help find what officials believed would be a body.
"At last check, the baby is doing well," a Manchester police representative told NBC10 Boston Wednesday.
Eckersley faced the charges from a hospital bed and was ordered held on $3,000 bail. Her attorney argued her client was traumatized.
"I don't think it's unreasonable at all that she was disoriented, confused, possibly suffering from hypothermia if she had just given birth outside in the elements," attorney Jordan Strand said.
Eckersley's boyfriend, who was allegedly with her until police arrived, may face charges in the case as well, prosecutors said.