Mark Robertson

Mark Robertson

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Retired officer reunites with the baby he saved 20 years ago. Big surprise!

A retired Indiana police lieutenant got the shock of his life when one of the officers he served with previously alerted him of a new recruit's identity telling him: 'Well, you're not going to believe this.' I said, ‘What?’ He says, 'He's sitting next to me,'" Gene Eyster, retired lieutenant from the South Bend Police Department said "Who is?’ [He replied with] 'Baby Jesus. He's sitting next to me. He's my rookie,'" he continued. "It was surreal."

Eyster went on to explain the "Baby Jesus" name was given to the unnamed baby he rescuing him after three students found him in a box just days before Christmas. "We didn't want to degrade him by calling him John Doe. Baby Jesus came up."

That baby was Matthew Hegdus-Stewart, is the now all-grown-up rookie police officer sitting beside Eyster's former colleague 24 years later. After being rescued by the same department he now serves, he received medical care and was taken to Child Protective Services before being put up for adoption.

Matthew said "I mean, I wondered my whole life, ‘Hey, who found me? What happened?’ And more or less, it's a kind of closure for Gene."

Eyster said he had no information about Hegdus-Stewart beyond what transpired that day. And for Hegdus-Stewart, his information was limited. He said his adoptive parents had access to the police report, but not much beyond it.

When asked if knowing about the rescue led him into his new line of work, he said the factor wasn't consciously considered, but it could have played an unconscious role in his decision to venture into law enforcement.

"I guess subconsciously, yes, that's probably why I ended up where I am now," he said.


Photo: South Bend Police Department

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