When one man found a month-old baby by the side of the road, the discovery shocked him beyond belief. Then, when police discovered the items that had been left with the child, the mystery grew even more confusing. And, naturally, officers did all they could to get to the bottom of the conundrum.
The man who first found the child, moreover, was one Roger Prater, who serves as the church youth group leader at Abba’s House Worship Center in Ada, Oklahoma. And as part of his work with the church, he organizes trips for children to enjoy. It was on one such venture, however, that Prater made his fateful discovery.
Specifically, Prater spotted the baby on one evening in September 2017, after he, his wife Nancy and the kids were at an amusement park. Following their fun-filled day out, the group had left the park just before 4:00 p.m. to make their way back home. And, for a while, the journey went without incident.
Then, as the youth group leader was driving down a rural part of an Oklahoma interstate, he suddenly noticed something. About ten feet from the road, he picked out what looked like a baby’s car seat. And as he got closer, he could see something sat in the seat – a doll, perhaps.
Furthermore, there was something about the carrier that perturbed Prater. And when he realized exactly what was so odd about the situation, he may have had a shock. That’s because the item within the seat wasn’t a doll at all. “I couldn’t fathom it at first,” he told People in September 2017.
“Then the little boy’s feet moved,” Prater continued to the magazine. “I told my wife under my breath, ‘I think I see a baby.’ She said, ‘What?’” Concerned, the couple decided to stop the van and pull over. And, as they slowed to a halt, their greatest fears were confirmed.
Indeed, Prater and his wife had discovered a living, four-week-old baby, seemingly dumped by the side of the interstate. But while there was no telling how long the child had been there, according to Prater, his prospects didn’t look good at first glance.
“His eyes were shut,” Prater explained. “I was freaking out. I thought, ‘Don’t let there be anything wrong with him.’” The churchgoer then rushed to the baby’s aid and picked up the carrier. Thankfully, at that moment, Prater would add to People, the infant’s eyes “popped open.”
And upon discovering the child was alive, Prater found himself instantly overcome with emotion. “I started bawling. I was relieved he was okay,” he said to the magazine. “He was just a little fella,” he added. “Thank God we got there in time.”
Then, as it was hot that day, Prater plucked the baby out of his seat and placed him in the van. He subsequently turned the air conditioning on to cool him down and then called the police to notify them of his discovery. That’s when Prater noticed, however, that the baby was actually pretty well turned out.
“He was real clean and had a onesie on,” Prater explained to People. “Beautiful baby.” And that wasn’t the only thing that was unusual about the child’s abandonment. When the authorities arrived on the scene, for instance, they discovered that whoever had dumped him had stuffed the car seat with $5,500. The baby’s Social Security card and birth certificate were also right there next to him.
Then, in due course, police transported the baby to a local hospital. Thankfully, doctors there found that he was doing fine. And, despite temperatures out on the road that day pushing past 90 °F, the child showed no signs of heat-related distress.
“He wasn’t sweating, sunburnt or hot,” read a police report of the scene. Consequently, investigators determined that the baby couldn’t have been left alone for longer than 30 minutes. And, of course, his fate could have been a lot worse had Prater not spotted him.
Then, using the documents found with the baby, police were able to track down his mom. “The mother was taken to a hospital to be evaluated,” Sergeant Gary Knight from the Oklahoma City Police Department would later reveal to People. The state would eventually go on to take custody of her child.
Perhaps, though, the mother and her baby would both have been better served if she had taken advantage of Oklahoma’s “safe haven” policy. This means that parents can relinquish unwanted children legally and responsibly at designated spots such as hospitals. And in 2015 Dawn Geras, the president of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, estimated that more than 3,000 babies throughout the U.S. have been given up in this way since the policy was first implemented.
However, data on the number of children that are abandoned illegally in public places is much more difficult to come by. And while Geras has ventured that around 1,400 babies were given up in this way from 1999 to 2015, she has acknowledged that the way in which she reached this number may not be particularly accurate.
Yet although the baby Prater found was not abandoned legally, police would go on to confirm that they’d made no arrests in the immediate aftermath of his ordeal. Moreover, to protect the identities of those involved, authorities decided not to release any names to the media.
Indeed, it seemed as if the most important thing was making sure that the baby was happy and healthy. And it appeared he was, according to the September 2017 report from People. “The little boy is safe,” Sheree Powell from Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services confirmed to the magazine. She added that her unit had already been inundated with adoption offers.
In fact, after the infant’s story stole headlines across the U.S., a great number of people revealed that they wanted to give the little boy a better life. “This baby’s story has touched the hearts of people around the country,” Powell added to People.
Prater, meanwhile, has chalked his fateful find up to divine intervention. “All I know is that God intervened,” he explained to People. “One day when the baby is old enough to understand, he can call me and I will tell him that it was no fluke that we found him. He added, “We found him for a reason. I will tell him that God has a plan for his life.”