When Shauna Hernandez was walking home from school last Friday, she heard crying coming from a dumpster in the 100 block of West Maxwell St. Upon spotting an infant about a foot from the top of the dumpster, she reached inside to rescue it, afterwards calling 911 with her cell phone.
The baby girl — who has yet to be identified — is in good condition despite having suffered from malnutrition and dehydration, said a spokesperson for West Florida Hospital.
“Ms. Hernandez is a hero in the truest sense of the word,” Pensacola police chief Chuck Simonis had said at a ceremony over the weekend, when he awarded the seventh-grader a medal of heroism. “She selflessly put aside concerns about her clothing and well-being to reach inside a stinky receptacle for refuse to save a total stranger who had been ruthlessly abandoned.”
However, on Monday Chief Simonis announced he was retracting his statement about the 13-year-old, saying he had learned from a 2005 article published in Psychology Today that most people will, without any expectation of reward, pick up abandoned babies.
“It actually takes a total sociopath to fail to rescue a poor little crying creature, particularly when the rescuer is not in any danger,” Simonis said. “While any decent human appreciates what Ms. Hernandez did, and might even respond with a feeling of profound gratitude, she’s actually quite typical.”
“I mean, anyone would do what she did,” Simonis said.
Simonis said that while he wasn’t going to ask Hernandez to return the medal or the $100 gift certificate she received from the Elks Lodge, he would like her to refrain from seeing herself as a hero, at the risk of “going through life expecting a damn trophy every time she does something nice.”