Local Officials Promote Drop-off Sites for Newborns

PANAMA CITY BEACH- On a cold night around Christmas 1995, a driver found an abandoned set of twins.

The boy and a girl were placed in a duffel bag in a roadside restroom at Lake Powell in Panama City beach.

"By the grace of god that someone came in and found it was twins," said John Daly, Panama City Beach fire rescue chief.

The babies were healthy and were quickly adopted.

But not all stories end as happily.

Okaloosa county sheriff's investigators have charged 29-year old Tonisha Crowell with an open count of murder and aggravated child abuse.

She allegedly left her newborn to die in a ditch.

"In light of what happened in fort Walton, we wanted to just remind people that a safe haven for newborns, the safe haven law was in effect since 2000," said Daly.

The safe haven law allows parents who do not want to keep their newborns to drop them off at various locations.

But many people don't know about the law.

"If there's ever a parent in distress, maybe someone can say hey if you can’t take care of the child here are some other options. Don’t do anything to harm the child, that's the main message," said Daly.

Parents can drop off their infants up to a week old, at hospitals, fire departments and E-M-S stations.

Panama City Beach Fire Rescue officials put up their new safe haven sign Wednesday.

If they receive a newborn, they immediately assess the baby and have supplies to care for it, until E-M-S arrives.

The person dropping-off the baby remains anonymous, unless there are signs of abuse.

The department works with the Gloria m. Silverio foundation with training for situations like these.