On a hot day during the height of summer, a police officer responded to an urgent call: a baby was stuck inside a car in a parking lot, with the mother nowhere in sight. And after arriving at the scene, the police officer understandably began to try to rescue the infant. Eventually, though, he realized that something was up…
Lieutenant Jason Short is a representative of the Keene Police Department in New Hampshire. And on one particular day in July 2016, he found himself in a very unusual situation. In fact, something happened to him while he was on shift that made local headlines.
It all started with a 911 call made by a member of the public. The concerned caller reported that they had seen a baby left in a car sitting in a shopping plaza parking lot. Even more ominously, the car’s windows were closed on this hot day, and the temperature inside of the vehicle must have rocketed.
Naturally, Short responded immediately and raced over to the scene of the incident. Aware of the potential danger to the baby, he knew that time was at a premium. “I got there as soon as I could. I don’t know how fast I was going, but it was quick,” Short told New Hampshire news channel WMUR in August 2016.
And once he had located the car in question, he peered inside to see what appeared to be a young baby covered with a light blanket. Peeping out underneath, meanwhile, were soft infant shoes and a bottle of milk. But as the child’s mother was seemingly nowhere around, Short had to make a potentially life-or-death decision. Could he afford to wait for the mom to return?
In that moment, his gut decision was that he didn’t have enough time to wait for the car’s owner. The weather outside was sweltering, after all, and no one could be sure how long the baby had been inside. So it seemed that there was only one thing for it: Short would have to take action himself.
Consequently, he grabbed his baton and started beating the car window with it in an attempt to free the child. And before long, the window shattered, allowing him to successfully gain access into the car. When he did, however, he feared nothing short of the worst. Speaking to WMUR in August 2016, the lieutenant recalled that the baby “looked lifeless, looked dead.”
What’s more, when he took the child out of the car, it wasn’t moving. Short quickly assessed, then, that there was nothing for it but to perform emergency CPR. However, it was when he attempted to do so that the penny dropped. Speaking to WMUR, Short remembered putting a finger in the baby’s mouth only to find that “it was all resistance.” So this wasn’t a real baby at all: this was a doll.
But it wasn’t just any old toy; it was an incredibly realistic doll that had managed to fool both the member of the public who dialed 911 and the responding police officer. Unfortunately, though, it had taken a call to the emergency services and a broken car window to get to the truth. And the situation begged yet another question: whose doll was it?
Well, it turned out that the owner of the doll was a woman from Vermont named Carolynne Seiffert. The lifelike model in the back of her car, moreover, was called Ainsley and has been valued at over $2,000. And amazingly, this doll wasn’t the only one Seiffert owned; in fact, she had about 40 of them that she had amassed over the years.
Sadly, Seiffert had lost a son and so had turned to these types of lifelike dolls to bring her comfort. On that particular day, then, she had decided to take Ainsley out with her. But knowing that the doll wasn’t real and perhaps not wanting to attract unnecessary attention, she chose not to bring Ainsley into the store with her.
Interestingly, natural-looking baby dolls like Ainsley are called “reborn dolls.” The process of making them is dubbed “reborning,” meanwhile, and those who create the realistic dolls are described as “reborners.” People may feel the need to have one in their lives if, like Seiffert, for example, a beloved child has passed away. Alternatively, they may choose to purchase one if their offspring have flown the nest.
What’s more, customers can opt to receive documents that imitate traditional birth certificates or papers relating to adoption. That way, the process may feel more like having a real baby. And as Lieutenant Short found to his cost, the models seem, at least at first glance, uncannily like the real thing, especially if elements like hair and even devices to simulate breathing and heartbeats are included.
Yet although this story ends happily, with no babies coming to any harm and no lasting damage done, it seems as if Seiffert did not enjoy any of the media attention associated with the incident. That’s judging from a statement she made afterwards to WMUR, in which she stated that she has been “laughed at and embarrassed by all the fuss.”
Perhaps feeling judged about her decision to adopt so many dolls, she concluded her statement to the news station with some heartbreaking words. “You can’t know how people choose to deal with their losses in life,” she said, suggesting, perhaps, that it is her dolls that help her with her grief after losing her son.
Not only that, but Seiffert has also expressed her hurt at the damage the police officer caused to her car that day. In response, the Keene Police Department, apparently not wishing her to be out of pocket, has said that it would make it up to her by covering the costs of repairing her vehicle.
But that doesn’t mean that Short regretted his actions one bit. Indeed, as he genuinely thought that there was a real baby stuck inside a baking hot car, he did the right thing in his mind. “I would never assume that it’s a doll,” Short told WMUR.
“I would always assume that it’s a child. I would never do anything different,” he continued, reasserting his belief that he acted appropriately. Furthermore, he decided to give some parting advice to Seiffert to avoid the same thing happening again in the future.
He suggested that she should either leave the doll at home or, alternatively, bring it inside with her when she leaves the car. And Seiffert has apparently learned from the incident, too. Since it happened, she has purchased a bumper sticker that emphasizes that the baby inside her car is not real.
Thankfully for everyone, this situation didn’t end in a tragedy. But what perhaps could have been avoided was plenty of unnecessary stress for all those involved.