ARLINGTON, Texas – A Texas boy abandoned at a fire station as an infant got a special wish for his 10th birthday: meeting the firefighter who saved him.
On Thursday evening, Koregan Quintanilla celebrated his recent birthday by meeting Arlington firefighter Wesley Keck, riding on a fire truck and touring the station.
Koregan was left at the station in 2002 under Texas’ Baby Moses law, which allows a parent to leave an unharmed infant up to 60 days old at a fire station or hospital with no questions asked. Child Protective Services then takes custody of the babies. All states have similar laws, but Texas was the first to create one, signing it into law in 1999. It took effect in 2001.
Keck said he was excited about seeing the boy for the first time since finding a baby carrier outside the station. He did a “double take” before rushing outside. He moved aside the blanket and saw a sleeping baby, then gently picked up the carrier and walked inside to tell his colleagues the shocking news, he said.
“I announced that somebody had left us a gift,” Keck said Thursday. “I checked him out, and he seemed fine. I don’t remember him crying. I held him, and he slept a lot.
“I have four kids, and some of the other firefighters are fathers, so taking care of babies wasn’t new to us.”
Koregan’s mother, Rebecca Quintanilla, said the 10-year-old has always known he’s adopted and for years has watched TV news footage from when he was found at the fire station.
This year, when his teacher asked students where they wanted to go more than anywhere else in the world, Koregan said “my fire station,” his mother said. So, she tracked down the firefighter and planned a reunion.
“He’s a very good kid, kind, shy, and he’s always giving things away to people,” Quintanilla said. “After talking to Mr. Keck, I think he’s like that. I do believe Koregan has some traits from Mr. Keck, although he just spent a few hours with him.”
Since 2009, 43 babies have been dropped off at fire stations and hospitals in Texas, the most recent figures available, said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Quintanilla, who has five other children, all adopted, said she is grateful for the Baby Moses law.
“It’s amazing, because there are terrified women who have no idea what to do,” she said. “There’s a window of time when they can make a choice.”
Keck, a firefighter for 26 years, agreed.
“I’m happy the way it turned out,” he said. “I didn’t do anything special. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”