What started out as a routine escort of a college basketball team from Buffalo Niagara International Airport turned into a desperate race to Erie County Medical Center to save the life of a nearly frozen infant.
Veteran transit cop David Capretto was on his way to the airport just before rush hour Wednesday to meet up with the Bucknell basketball team and take them to a practice at Medaille College.
He started flashing his emergency lights when he saw a car flailing across the road and hitting cars on the ramp from the Scajaquada Expressway to the Kensington Expressway toward the airport. Finally, Capretto said, the driver completely lost control and the heart of the matter occurred.
"At one point, he hit the center divide," Capretto said. "He tore the left front tire off the vehicle and he couldn't drive anymore. He exited the vehicle holding what I thought was a teddy bear, at first, in his hand and he was attempting to pull the doors open on vehicles that were passing by."
Then, Capretto realized the teddy bear was in fact a tiny naked infant.
"I noticed it was a human, a baby, and I exited my vehicle, asking him what the problem was," Capretto said. "He kept saying, 'The baby, the baby.' Screaming. I said bring the baby here, bring the baby here. When he got close enough to me, his demeanor was not, he wasn't in his demeanor. I took the baby, put it in my truck."
After rushing the man, later identified as 23-year-old Kaleb Evans, Capretto - with infant in hand - jumped into Evans' truck . The officer put the baby next to his body under his uniform coat and took off for ECMC.
Doctors and nurses were able to warm up the baby and get her ready for transfer to Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo, where the infant is listed in serious condition.
Police will not identify the baby and cannot completely explain how the 23-year-old man came into custody of the child. They said Evans took off from the scene while Capretto was rushing to the hospital and alerting transit officers.
Buffalo Police Lt. Jeff Rinaldo says the incident set off a manhunt across the city, until the man was nabbed.
"During the interim between the accident and him showing up at the bus terminal, we had multiple officers working with NFTA, checking the area, trying to hunt up some leads, trying to find where this person went to," Rinaldo said. "As soon as NFTA was able to detain him at the bus stop, they immediately contacted Buffalo Police and that's when our Sex Offense Squad detectives came over and are currently following up on the investigation."
Transit officers said Evans arrived at Buffalo downtown bus station with a ticket for Atlanta in his pocket.
Evans is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. The infant and Evans are believed to be distantly related and he was some sort of babysitter.