Jack Rogers thought he saw a baby on the railroad tracks. His wife, Norma Rogers, told him he was silly, it was a doll, keep driving.
He was right.
The 8-month-old, blond-haired, blue-eyed boy, Nathaniel, was placed in a foster home late Monday after being checked at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma. His 15-year-old mother was placed in protective custody at receiving home but fled and remained at large early Tuesday.
The father of the baby also was being sought, Pierce County sheriff's deputy Ed Troyer said.
The mother, who lives in Spanaway, apparently set the baby on the tracks while she was arguing with a man, Troyer said.
He said it was "a case of children raising children" and there was no indication she had meant any harm to the baby.
The Rogerses said the baby's sleeper and jacket seemed clean, and hospital officials found no indications of abuse or neglect, just a few scratches on his back that were not unusual for an active child.
"He's just well-fed and well-adjusted and eating like a horse," hospital spokesman Todd Kelley said.
Witnesses said the boy was within six feet of the fog line on Washington 7 at the north end of the hamlet about 25 miles southeast of Tacoma and 14 miles west of the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park.
The tracks are used only by the Mount Rainier Scenic Railway, which does not operate at this time of year.
Rogers said he and his wife were heading from Elbe to Puyallup about 9 a.m. Monday.
"I just saw something out of the corner of my eye and said that must be a baby," he said, "but my wife said it must be a doll."
Others also stopped, and Rogers said he yelled at a couple arguing about 1,500 feet up the tracks. At first they would not come to get the baby.
When they did show up, first the man and then the woman, those at the scene had decided to turn the child over to authorities. An Elbe Fire Department representative took the little boy and called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital.
Troyer said the mother was not attending school and had been driving a car without a license.
"The mother was 13 when she got pregnant and 14 when she had the baby," Troyer said. "She may need help, too."
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