NEW YORK – An infant girl strapped in a car seat and abandoned in the back of a livery car on a bitterly cold day was declared in excellent health after she was dropped off at a firehouse by the quick-witted driver.
Dressed all in pink, with a bow around her head, the brown-eyed, brown-haired baby giggled several times at a news conference Thursday afternoon, where officials introduced her and asked for help in finding her relatives.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says the NYPD is seeking the public's help in identifying the infant girl, but that so far only one person has called its tips hotline.
Kelly called the poor response "both troubling and surprising," and said the single call did not "pan out."
Klever Sailema, who drives a car affiliated with Tel-A-Car of New York, dropped the baby off at Engine Co. 289 and Ladder Co. 138 in the Corona section of Queens, along with a bag containing baby formula, diapers and clothing.
"Considering today's bitter cold, we couldn't be more thrilled that this baby was brought to a safe haven by Mr. Sailema. Thanks to him, the baby received quick medical attention," said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Matthew W. Daus, adding that Sailema would be honored at the TLC's annual driver recognition ceremony in late March.
According to police, Sailema picked up a passenger in Queens. Several blocks later, the fare asked the driver to stop so he could make a phone call. But after he got out, he didn't return, police said.
Sailema took the baby, believed to be about six or seven months old, to the firehouse, where firefighters played with her — and even changed her diaper — for about 45 minutes before emergency medical personnel arrived. She was taken to a hospital, where she was declared to be in good health.
"The baby was awake, alert, content and in good shape," said Fire Department Lt. Jimmy LoFaso of Engine 289.
Officials said she will be turned over to the Administration for Children's Services, which will try to track down any family members.
The National Weather Service said it was 21 degrees Thursday morning.