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Body of 2nd Baby Found Washed Ashore in Orange County : Investigation: Saturday's grim discovery in Newport Beach is followed by another Sunday morning along Sunset Beach.

March 13, 1995|DIANE SEO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SUNSET BEACH — A day after the body of an infant girl was discovered on Newport Beach, another newborn girl washed ashore Sunday 12 miles to the north.

Lt. Jay Mendez of the Orange County Sheriff's Department said a resident was walking along Sunset Beach near 14th Street at about 7 a.m. Sunday when he saw the body. Like the newborn found Saturday near 10th Street on Newport Beach, the baby still was attached to her umbilical cord, authorities said.

"Our homicide and crime scene investigators are handling the case, and at this point, they're not sure if the two cases are related," Mendez said. "But newborns shouldn't be out in the ocean to be washed ashore, so unless we find out differently, we're treating it as a homicide."

Mendez said the infant was 21 inches long and weighed seven pounds, which means she was probably full-term when born. The baby's race, however, was not determined because her body was badly decomposed, Mendez said.

"It appears she had been in the water for about four days," Mendez said.

An autopsy was performed Sunday, but a cause of death was not determined, Mendez said.

Jim Myers, 46, who lives along Sunset Beach, said the baby was found on the beach in front of his home. Although the discovery created a commotion, Myers said he couldn't bear to look.

"When I saw one officer, I thought maybe there was a sick seal," he said. "When I saw more officers, I expected to hear them say it was a man that washed ashore. But when they said it was an infant, I said, 'Oh God' and then walked back to my home."

Meanwhile, in Newport Beach, authorities still were looking for clues about the baby that washed ashore Saturday. A 35-year-old Garden Grove woman discovered the body near the surf line while taking a morning walk, police said.

"The coroner's office did an autopsy Saturday, but they couldn't determine the cause of death because the baby had been in the ocean for five or six days," said Police Lt. Don Chandler. "We're hoping that someone out there knew a pregnant lady who doesn't have the baby anymore."

Because of the strong ocean currents during the recent storm, authorities said it's difficult to tell which direction the infants were coming from or how far their bodies traveled.

The shocking nature of the two incidents and the fact that the newborns were discovered a day apart surprised even law enforcement officials.

"It's totally bizarre," Chandler said.

Said Mendez: "I've been here seven years, and it's the first time I've heard of anything like this. I've heard of adults and teen-agers washing ashore, but not babies."

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