A mother's worst nightmare came to a joyous end Monday morning when a jogger discovered a missing infant crying alone in a field hours after a thief stole the car the baby was sleeping in while her mom watched in horror.
Eight-month-old Genesis Haley was asleep in her carseat when her mother briefly ran into a Texaco station in Houston to pay for gas on Monday – and left her daughter in the running car.
"The mother had locked all the doors except for the driver's side door. She told us she left the car running because the baby was asleep," Houston Police Department Officer Shaun Sylvester told reporters, according to KHOU TV. "The mother was inside the store for a matter of seconds when the suspect took the car. He was actually in such a hurry he left the driver's door open while he fled."
Police said the mother attempted to chase the car, but to no avail. She then went home to contact police after she unsuccessfully tried to get a store clerk and customers to contact police.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert around 3 a.m. and the car was found abandoned a short time later – but without the baby inside.
The gut-wrenching incident ended at about 8 a.m. Monday when jogger Hong Nguyen discovered the infant still inside her carseat in tall grass on the north side of the city – crying but otherwise okay.
Nguyen quickly called 911 and stayed with the infant until help arrived. But in true hero fashion, she downplayed her role in the rescue.
"That's my duty as a human being to do that," said Nguyen. "I can't believe – it was so scary to see that situation."
Houston Police Officer Albert Pizana was the first to reach little Genesis, and the father of two knew just what to do to calm the upset infant.
"I know sometimes babies like to be swaddled," Pizana told reporters. "We don't have any blankets, so I decided to use my uniform shirt and that calmed her down."
She was taken to a local hospital to be examined, and aside from a few ant bites she was released in good condition and reunited with her mother.
"Whenever we can recover a baby that's alive it's very reassuring in our job," Pizana told reporters. "It makes you want to go home and hug your kids even tighter."