It was a hot summer day in Keene, New Hampshire, when police lieutenant Jason Short responded to a 911 call. Someone had seen a baby roasting inside of a car which had been parked near a Walmart.
When he got to the vehicle, sure enough, a tiny infant was locked inside.
Lt. Short's instincts kicked in. He smashed the window and retrieved the lifeless infant.
But something was wrong.
The baby wasn't breathing, and when Short performed CPR, it didn't seem to be working.
That's when he realized that it might not be a baby at all.
Lt. Short spoke to WMUR about the incident:
“I went to put my finger in its mouth and it was all resistance,” he said.
“And I’m like, ‘This is a doll.’”
It was a doll, made to look exactly like a real baby.
The doll is what's known as a “reborn” doll — they're often purchased as a coping mechanism by grieving parents who have lost a child.
This situation was, unfortunately, no different.
The doll belonged to Vermont resident Carolynne Seiffert, whose 20-year-old son died in 2005. She began collecting these reborn dolls as a way to honor his memory.
She owns about 40 of them.
Seiffert spoke to CBS and suggested that she just wants to move past this incident:
"I’d like this whole incident to have never happened,” she said.
“I was excited to have this type of doll and wanted her with me.”
The grieving mother also wanted to let people know that her propensity to collect these dolls is nothing to be embarrassed about:
“I’ve been laughed at and embarrassed by all the fuss."
“You can’t know how people choose to deal with their losses in life."
She's not alone.
Psychiatrist Gail Saltz spoke to Today back in 2008 and extolled the virtues of using reborn dolls to help deal with extreme grief:
“It’s natural for people to find ways of preserving memories of those they love — from making photo albums, to visiting gravesites to keeping an urn of ashes on the mantel.
Everyone tries to vanquish death and the ravages of time.
[These dolls provide] moments of relief and reprieve, when they can escape the stark reality of their loss, and instead have those familiar feelings of coddling a baby, cooing over it, and all those other nice moments that temporarily undo the harsh reality."
While these dolls may help people deal with the grief of losing a child, this isn't the first time authorities have mistaken one for a real baby.
In 2014, New Jersey EMTs made a similar mistake, breaking into a hot car in order to save one of these lifelike dolls:
As for Lt. Short, he says that he would make the same decision again in a heartbeat:
“I would never assume that it’s a doll,” he said.
“I would always assume that it’s a child. I would never do anything different.”
The police department will be paying $300 to fix Seiffert's window.
She also had a sticker made, that she affixed to her car, to let future officers know that the vehicle is occupied by a doll, and not a real baby.
You can watch Lt. Short talking about the experience here: