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Woman abandons newborn at rest stop along Interstate 75, officials say

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A woman abandoned a newborn baby early Saturday at a rest stop along Interstate 75 in Marion County, authorities said.

Valerie Strong, a spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff's Office, said a person found the infant just after 3 a.m. inside the women's restroom at the rest stop near Ocala and called authorities. Deputies believe the mother gave birth to the boy inside the restroom and left.

Strong said the newborn boy was transported to a local hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

Strong noted that Florida's safe haven law is designed to discourage people from leaving newborns without proper care. The law allows parents to leave their unharmed infants, who are less than one week old, with employees at hospitals or with firefighters at any fire station in the state.

Anyone with information about the abandoned newborn is asked to call Detective Billy Burleson at 352-368-3542 or Crime Stoppers of Marion County at 352-368-7867.