PHOENIX — Baby Santana is off the feeding tube and in good condition after his mother is accused of sneaking him out of Valleywise Health Medical Center in a duffel bag, prompting an Amber Alert on Wednesday.
The 5-day-old has a medical condition requiring a feeding tube as part of his lifesaving medical treatment. For unknown reasons, police said 24-year-old Rosa Santana left the hospital with her child against medical advice.
“She needs help,” Paul Santana, the newborn’s grandfather, told 12News. “She’s addicted obviously to fentanyl, just like so many other young people in the country.”
The grandfather said he is hurt after learning what his daughter is accused of doing. He said he last spoke to Rosa Santana two months ago through social media but hadn’t seen her in person in about three years because of her addiction.
“She was using drugs and obviously she was using when she was pregnant,” the grandfather said. “What happened more or likely is that she was scared. She thought that they were probably arresting her for negligence.”
It was through media reports that the grandfather found out about the situation that involved his daughter. He said she has three other children under 5 who are in the state’s custody.
“I’m sure she did whatever she did out of fear and anxiety,” Baby Santana’s grandfather said. “I need to stick with my child and try to help her and support her through this.”
How Baby Santana disappeared and was later found
Valleywise Health Medical Center tells 12News staff was alerted the baby and mother were missing after noticing they were not in their acute care room around 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday.
“We notified the Phoenix Police Department and began quickly securing access points throughout the medical center, surveillance of parking lots, mobilization of medical center staff and security personnel in search of the missing mother and infant,” Michael Murphy, a spokesperson for the hospital, said in a statement.
The hospital tells 12News a nurse called 911 at 12:04 p.m., but Phoenix Police said they were first notified about the incident at 1:17 p.m.
By 2 p.m., patrol officers that had responded to the hospital notified detectives from the Family Investigations Bureau with the Child Crimes Unit, police said.
At 5:35 p.m. detectives reached out to the Missing Person’s Unit asking for help, who provided a bulleting with photos of Rosa Santana and the newborn. Police said the bulletin was sent to all law enforcement agencies.
By 5:47 p.m., police said detectives reached out over radio communications and began broadcasting a “be on the lookout” every 15 minutes as officers patrolled the hospital, surrounding areas, and places the mother was known to frequent.
“There was no mode of transportation seen,” Sergeant Brian Bower told 12News. “They believed she was on foot.”
At 6:55 p.m., the Amber Alert was activated by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
“This case is a little unique than other Amber Alerts because there was no car involved, there was no more of transportation that was seen,” Bower said.
By 8 p.m., officers were seen searching at an apartment complex near 71st Avenue and Indian School Road.
“They had police set up at every exit and entrance of the neighborhood,” resident Antonio Carrasquillo told 12News. “They had at least 2 to 3 officers checking the car, one with a flashlight. They asked people to open their trunks and checked there.”
At 9:34 p.m. Baby Santana and the mother were found inside an apartment believed to be her residence.
Police officers were welcomed into the apartment and took Rosa Santana into custody with no difficulty, Sgt. Bower said.
The 24-year-old mother was booked into jail on felony child abuse charges.
By 10 p.m., the newborn child was back at Valleywise “receiving proper medical help,” police said.
Rosa Santana made a court appearance Thursday afternoon
The 24-year-old mother appeared before a judge Thursday afternoon.
In court records, it’s alleged Baby Santana was drug tested after he was born on July 6, and screens “showed the victim had fentanyl in his umbilical cord sample indicating long-term fentanyl use by Rosa.”
Shortly after the baby was born, he was placed in the ICU. He was suffering from withdrawals and was administered morphine, and had a feeding tube placed, arresting documents said.
When Rosa Santana left the hospital with her newborn in a black duffle bag, records said she had legal custody over the baby and “had not yet been served with a court-authorized removal order by the Department of Child Safety.”
Hospital staff alerted DCS and Phoenix police.
The mother’s phone was pinged and located came back to the apartment complex on 71st Ave and Indian School Road, records showed.
There, a witness approached officers, who indicated the 24-year-old was at her apartment.
“Officers made contact with Rosa in the bedroom… and found her unconscious, with drug paraphernalia in her hand and a piece of paper with powder residue consistent with fentanyl on it on the bed next to her,” court records said.
Baby Santana was found on the bed, on his back, wrapped in a blanket and placed between his mother and several pillows, near the substance believed to be fentanyl, documents read.
During a post-Miranda interview with detectives, court documents said Rosa Santana had been notified that morning that the victim had tested positive for fentanyl.
“Rosa stated she has had her three previous children removed from her custody by DCS and expected the victim to be removed as well,” documents read. “Rosa stated she did not feel the victim was in any medical danger and had been improving and feeding without his NG tube.”
The mother told police after leaving the hospital with Baby Santana, she went to her boyfriend’s work, picked him up, who then dropped her off at an apartment, records said.
Rosa Santana said she fed the baby and once he fell asleep, she used fentanyl by inhaling the powder, arresting documents said.
During her court appearance, the mother said, “There was no fentanyl around my son.”
“To be honest with you, I never expected any of this to happen,” the mother told the judge. “I never wanted any of this to happen. I never tried to hurt my own son. I was trying to avoid a bunch of more drama.”
Rosa Santana’s bond was set at $10,000 cash. Her court appearance is on July 19.
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