Baby Found Abandoned in Car Seat on Okla. Highway with $5,500 in Cash, Birth Certificate, Social Security Card
A church youth group leader found an apparently abandoned one-month-old baby in a car seat on the side of the road while driving along a busy interstate Saturday afternoon, PEOPLE confirms.
“He was just a little fella,” Rodger Prater, 46, the leader of the youth group at Abba’s House of Worship Center in Ada, Oklahoma, tells PEOPLE. “Thank God we got there in time.”
The infant was found with $5,500 in cash, a birth certificate and a social security card, Sgt. Gary Knight of the Oklahoma City Police Department tells PEOPLE.
The startling discovery came when Prater and his wife, Nancy, were driving a van full of church youth group members home after spending the day at an amusement park, he says.
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At about 4 p.m., while heading down a rural, wooded stretch of I-40, he spotted what he says looked like a car seat.
“I couldn’t fathom it at first,” he says. “Then the little boy’s feet moved. I told my wife under my breath, ‘I think I see a baby.’ She said, ‘What?’”
The child was sitting inside the carrier, about 10 feet from the white line on the shoulder of the busy, two-lane highway, according to the police report obtained by PEOPLE.
With temperatures exceeding 90 degrees, the blacktop on which the carrier sat was hot. But the baby showed no signs of distress. “He wasn’t sweating, sunburnt or hot,” says the report.
Police estimate that the infant had only been there about a half hour.
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Prater says his heart skipped a beat when he approached the car seat and didn’t see any movement. “His eyes were shut,” he says. “I was freaking out. I thought, ‘Don’t let there be anything wrong with him.’”
When he picked up the car seat, “the baby’s eyes popped open,” he says. “I started bawling. I was relieved he was OK.”
Prater brought the baby back to the van, laid him on a seat, turned on the air conditioning to cool him off and then called 911.
“He was real clean and had a onesie on,” he says. “Beautiful baby.”
While they waited for help to arrive, his wife changed the baby with a diaper that a Good Samaritan who stopped to help gave Prater, he says.
Once police and emergency personnel arrived, the baby was taken to an area hospital. “He was checked and he was just fine,” says Knight.
Police were able to locate the child’s mother later that day using the information found on the documents that were with the baby, says Knight. “The mother was taken to a hospital to be evaluated,” says Knight.
No arrests have been made and the baby is in custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
“The little boy is safe,” DHS communications director Sheree Powell tells PEOPLE.
Her office has been inundated with offers to adopt the baby.
“This baby’s story has touched the hearts of people around the country,” she says.
Prater downplayed his quick-thinking act of heroism — and credits the discovery of the baby elsewhere.
“All I know is that God intervened,” he says. “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. We found him for a reason. I will tell him that God has a plan for his life.”