EDITOR’S NOTE: This article previously had incorrect information on Utah’s definition of a newborn. We apologize for the mistake, it has now been corrected.
WASHINGTON CITY, Utah (ABC4) — A Utah woman has been arrested for child abandonment after allegedly leaving her infant baby on a curb with a group of strangers, and this is not the first abandonment case in the past week.
A woman called the police on Tuesday saying a woman, identified as Kylie Smith, 36, pulled into her driveway “at a high rate of speed” bumping into the hitch of her parked truck. Smith then allegedly told the woman and her friends that her baby was sick and needed to go to the hospital.
Smith then allegedly climbed into the woman’s truck and attempted to start it. The witnesses told police they pulled her out of the truck, at which point Smith went over to her own vehicle and started taking things out. Along with a cardboard box and a small purse, the woman placed her two-month-old baby in a car seat on the curb.
Smith then allegedly drove away. The woman, who is a registered nurse, attended to the baby until police arrived. Police report the baby appeared to be in good health but had a small scratch on her cheek and a rash on her back. The baby was taken to the St. George Regional Hospital as a safety precaution.
Police later located Smith after she first evaded cops driving 100 miles per hour near Red Hills Parkway.
She is facing several charges including child abandonment, failure to stop at the command of police, and attempted vehicle theft, all third-degree felonies. She is also facing charges of child abuse, reckless driving, and intoxication.
Three days prior, a woman named Veronica Gourley, 30, was arrested for child abandonment in Tooele County after allegedly leaving her newborn baby in the hospital and refusing to sign an AMA form. Tooele County deputies located her at a friend’s home where she reportedly told police she had left her baby and smoked fentanyl but was planning on returning to the hospital.
Safe Haven Laws
While it is a crime to abandon your baby, there are some laws that allow birth parents to safely drop off babies anonymously with no questions asked at a hospital.
These laws are referred to as baby drop-off laws or safe haven laws and are designed to prevent unsafe abandonment, according to Intermountain Healthcare.
In Utah, these laws allow someone to turn over a newborn up to 30 days after birth. To do so, the mother or another individual can give the infant to a staff member at any 24-hour hospital. The person relinquishing the baby will not be questioned, however, they can choose to provide medical information for the infant.
The Utah law was changed in the 2020 General Session to define a newborn baby as an infant 30 days old or younger. The law previously only allowed the baby to be turned over within 72 hours.
After receiving an infant, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services assumes the care of the baby and ensures that they are not a missing child. Authorities will then place the newborn into a potential adoptive home, according to Utah Newborn Safe Haven.
For more information, visit the Utah Newborn Safe Haven website or call the 24-hour hotline at 866-458-0058.