Boy Meets Fireman who Saved him

(AP) — When fourth-grader Koregan Quintanilla was talking with his classmates about where they wanted to go more than anyplace else in the world, his answer wasn’t an amusement park, sporting event or kids restaurant. It was “his” fire station.

Koregan was abandoned in 2002 at an Arlington fire station when he was just a few hours old. Texas’ Baby Moses law allows a parent to leave an unharmed infant up to 60 days old at a fire station or hospital with no questions asked. Child Protective Services then takes custody of the babies.

On Thursday evening, Koregan got his wish for his 10th birthday. He met the Arlington firefighter who saved him, rode on a fire truck and toured the station. He hugged Arlington firefighter Wesley Keck and said he was “very nice.”

Keck said he was excited about seeing the boy for the first time since finding a baby carrier outside the station on a cold November morning. He said he did a double take before rushing outside. He moved the blanket aside and saw a sleeping baby, then gently picked up the carrier and walked inside to tell his colleagues the shocking news, he said.

“I announced that somebody had left us a gift,” Keck said Thursday. “I checked him out, and he seemed fine. I don’t remember him crying. I held him, and he slept a lot. I have four kids, and some of the other firefighters are fathers, so taking care of babies wasn’t new to us.”

Koregan’s mother, Rebecca Quintanilla, said her son, who turned 10 last week, always has known he was adopted and has watched TV news footage from when he was found at the fire station. This year, when Koregan began showing more interest in meeting the firefighter, she tracked Keck down and planned a reunion.

“He’s a very good kid, kind, shy and he’s always giving things away to people,” Quintanilla said. “After talking to Mr. Keck, I think he’s like that. I do believe Koregan has some traits from Mr. Keck, although he just spent a few hours with him.”

Since 2009, 43 babies have been dropped off at fire stations and hospitals in Texas, said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. All states have similar laws, but Texas was the first to create the Baby Moses law, signing it into law in 1999. It took effect in 2001.

Quintanilla, who has five other children, all adopted, said she is grateful for the Baby Moses law — although it means Koregan never will have a way of finding his biological mother or his medical history unless she comes forward.

“It’s amazing, because there are terrified women who have no idea what to do,” she said. “There’s a window of time when they can make a choice.”

Keck, a firefighter for 26 years, agreed.

“I’m happy the way it turned out,” he said. “I didn’t do anything special. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

 

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About Fr Stephen Smuts
TAC Priest in South Africa.

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