An Amber Alert issued for baby Gabriela Quintero was one of the first things to pop up in my Facebook feed this morning, capturing my horrified attention because it’s every mother’s worst nightmare: your baby goes missing because of your own split-second, foolish mistake.
We’ve probably all done it, or something similar ... You’ve got an armload of stuff, you can’t carry it all, so you pop baby in her car seat and run back up to your porch for your diaper bag or laptop or whatever the heck you couldn’t manage in the first trip. That’s exactly what Graciela Quintero, Gabriela’s mama, did this morning outside her home in Palo Alto, California -- only she left her keys in her car’s ignition. In the moment Quintero stepped away from her car to grab the rest of her stuff, a strange woman jumped in the Jeep and drove away with the baby -- who wasn’t even strapped in yet!
But there's good news: The 11-month-old baby who was stolen along with her mom’s car this morning has been found safe and sound after being missing for almost five horrible hours. Can you even begin to imagine her family’s relief?
Quintero’s housemate says he was just about to get up for work when he heard Qunitero “screaming hysterically.” That poor woman! What an absolute nightmare, to watch a stranger drive away with your baby. I can still remember my utter panic when I accidentally locked my several-month-old baby in the car one summer morning -- and she was right in front of me, CLEARLY not going anywhere! Since I had also locked my cellphone in the car, I practically mauled a woman who happened to be passing by, screeching like a lunatic that I needed her phone. It seems laughable in the face of something like this that I would have been so upset about that -- but so much of being a parent (especially a new one) is worrying that you’re going to do something terribly wrong!
In the case of baby Gabriela, authorities couldn’t be sure if the car thief also meant to be a kidnapper, but until both the baby and the car turned up just six miles away from where they were stolen this morning, the case was being treated a “stranger abduction.” A woman who spotted the SUV after seeing the Amber Alert called 9-1-1 -- isn’t that amazing?! Just goes to show that those alerts really can work, and we should ALWAYS share them when we come across them!
This must have been the longest -- and then the happiest -- day of Quintero’s life. I know she’ll be extra grateful this Friday when she celebrates baby Gabriela’s first birthday, and I hope she knows that we ALL make mistakes. Luckily, very often our mistakes don’t have any real consequences, and I’m SO HAPPY for the Quintero family’s happy ending.
Have you ever done something similar to what Gabriela’s mom did this morning?
Image via abc7newsBayArea/Twitter