A woman is facing a felony charge after she gave birth overnight in the woods in Manchester, New Hampshire, and then allegedly lied to police about where the baby was.
Manchester police say 26-year-old Alexandra Eckersley has been charged with felony reckless conduct after first responders were called to the area of 3 Electric Street, near the baseball field adjacent to the West Side Arena, around 12:30 a.m. Monday for a report of a woman who had delivered a baby in the woods in that area.
District fire chief Jon Starr confirmed a fire truck and ambulance were dispatched to a wooded area on the West side of Manchester for someone experiencing problems with a pregnancy. Police were later called for additional assistance. According to Starr, Eckersley is the one who called for help.
The fire chief said the woman needed medical attention, and claimed she had given birth prematurely, however the baby was nowhere to be found when help arrived.
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According to police, Eckersley directed officers and EMS personnel to where the newborn allegedly was, but they were unable to locate the infant.
After nearly an hour, police say Eckersley revealed the baby's true location and led officers to a different area. Once they found the newborn, the baby was treated on scene by EMT's and then taken to Catholic Medical Center in Manchester.
"We searched the woods for over an hour, the woman was not being helpful," the fire chief said. "She actually sent us initially to a part of the area that was opposite of where the baby was found, but finally ambulance personnel were able to convince her to give us the true location and we did find the baby, exposed, undressed, naked in a tent, outdoors in the cold last night."
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"It was about 18 degrees last night," the chief added. "It was cold."
When first responders found the infant uncovered on the floor of the tent, the baby was moving but needed assistance breathing, Starr said.
"The ambulance and fire crews were able to take the baby out, the nearest piece of apparatus we had that was warm was a fire engine, they got it in there, they started immediately assisting the baby to breathe and keeping the baby warm, and they rushed to the hospital in the fire engine," he added.
The baby was transported Monday afternoon to Dartmouth Hospital in Hanover.
"We were amazed that the baby's still alive," Starr noted.
Eckersley was arrested on an unrelated warrant out of Concord District Court for endangering the welfare of a child, police said, and then she was later charged in connection with Monday's incident.
"We searched for over an hour because she gave our personnel and police personnel incorrect information," Starr reiterated. "It was a very difficult search, it was 18 degrees out, it was pitch black, it was dark, it was 12:30 in the morning, so it took a toll on our personnel, as well."
The chief said the woman was unhoused and was living in a tent with another person in a wooded area down by the river. She was taken to Elliott Hospital, though the chief did not have an update on her condition Monday night.
The Manchester Fire Department said it is focused on locating and helping unhoused people in these isolated camp sites during the current cold snap the region is experiencing.
It was not immediately clear if Eckersley had obtained an attorney who could speak to the charge she's facing, and there's no word on who will have custody of the baby.