NEW YORK, United States - It was a first responder's worst nightmare: the discovery early on Tuesday of a dead infant.
The find drew police and rescue personnel who spent hours poring over a grassy area near a park in New York's Queens borough before a medical examiner realized the baby was actually a gruesome prop.
"Upon arrival, officers discovered what preliminarily appeared to be an unconscious and unresponsive infant in a grassy area," New York Police Department spokesman Officer Brian Magoolaghan said by phone.
After medics pronounced the child dead, police roped off the area with yellow tape and set about investigating what appeared to be a crime, he said. A passerby had reported the sighting to police.
"It appeared to be a baby with discoloration consistent with signs of prolonged death, but thankfully, it was actually a lifelike prop," fire department spokesman Frank Dwyer said by email.
Officials are investigating the incident including how a doll, however realistic looking, could have been mistaken for a dead infant.
"Keep in mind that police are not medical personnel," said a police source who asked to remain anonymous. "Our emphasis is preserving a crime scene."
Among the questions police are hoping to answer in their investigation, the source said, are "how this object came to be in the location where it was found and who might have placed it there and why."