'We didn't think that the baby would've survived': flight crew recounts search for abandoned baby
BATON ROUGE - The two Baton Rouge Police officers searching for an abandoned eight-month-old Tuesday morning by helicopter didn't always anticipate a happy ending but credit a multi-agency response for the positive end result.
Cpl. David Poirrier and detective Dustin Conde searched the wooded area around Hooper Road, just east of Plank Road, from above as crews with the Baton Rouge Fire Department, EMS, and East Baton Rouge Coroner's Office, among other agencies, scoured the area from the ground.
"It wasn't frustrating, it was just a large area and wanting to find the child in the quickest possible time for him to have the best effort to stay alive," Poirrier said.
At first, Poirrier was searching from the sky alone. After a lack of success, initially, he landed and had Conde join him to add another pair of eyes.
One piece of information may have made the difference.
"The first thing we did was find out what clothing the child was wearing, and if that would stand out in the background of the landscape," Poirrier explained. "We were informed the child was wearing a blue onesie."
Spotting something blue among the brown and green vegetation was all the pair became focused on.
"We started flying very low, with airplanes flying overhead," Conde said. "We started looking in the field, in the general area. The onesie kind of stood out."
From there, everything seemed to happen in an instant, the pair recounts.
Poirrier, flying between 50 and 100 feet from the ground, quickly landed. At that point, Conde got out of the helicopter and headed towards the baby.
"We didn't think that the baby would have survived," Conde said. "The position the child was in, it just didn't look good. We flew right over [him] as we were landing [and] the child never moved. It wasn't relief. It was sadness."
That sadness, however, quickly evaporated when Conde, expecting the worst, went to check for a pulse.
"When I touched his neck for a pulse, and I saw his hand start to move, the shock, the happiness, it turned out really well," Conde recalled. "Even now, it doesn't seem real. We're so used to bad news."
Hours after the search ended, Conde still had trouble putting the episode into words.
"It's hard to even explain," he said. "I don't understand the feeling I had. All I could think about ... was to get the baby help."
Having already alerted medics at the scene, Poirrier and Conde handed off the baby so he could be rushed to a local hospital.
Though they first spotted the baby, the pair says the rescue was a group effort.
"Everything just fell into place," Poirrier said. "From the very beginning, the hospital, the fire department, all the way through search and rescue, K-9, all they way through, we wouldn't have had a successful outcome."
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