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via: philly.com

Search on for newborn, siblings possibly tossed in river

By Peter Mucha

Inquirer Staff Writer

Boat crews and a helicopter were searching this morning for at least one child possibly thrown into the Delaware River by a mother.

Reports are not only sketchy, but contradictory about the number of children and the location of the incident.

Early this morning, the mother, Michelle “Shelly” Perez, called a counsellor at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Philadelphia to say she gave birth this morning and threw the baby into the river, according to a Coast Guard news release. She was crying while walking down Broadway in Camden at the time of the call, according to the statement.

Perez later said she had thown her 2-year-old and her 4-year-old into the river from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

Peggy Boemmel, chief financial officer at St. Joseph’s Hospital in North Philadelphia, told the Associated Press an alcohol and drug counselor received the call around 4 a.m. and kept the woman on the phone for a couple of hours while alerting another employee to call 911.

Boemmel was trying to determine if the woman had ever been a patient there.

A search involving a Coast Guard helicopter and boats from Philadelphia Police, New Jersey State Police, and Camden Fire and Rescue began as soon as officials were notified.

The bridge, however, might not have been involved at all, said Ed Kasuba, spokesman for the Delaware River Port Authority. The gates to the bridge’s walkways were locked at that hour, no witnesses are known, the bridge’s cameras showed no incident, and the woman allegedly also mentioned walking to the river from Camden’s bus and High Speed Line complex, the Rand Transportation Center, he said.

How long the search might continue was uncertain, since situations like this are continually being re-evaluated, a Coast Guard spokesman said.

A request was made to St. Joseph’s Hospital for more information about the woman’s phone calls.

Anyone with information on Perez’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Coast Guard at 215-271-4940