The abandoned infant was left in a paper bag and a bath towel at the entrance to Filoli Estate in Woodside on the frosty evening of Dec. 30, 1987. The temperaturewas already 42 degrees and dropping fast.
She survived only because California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Gibbons pulled over to stretch his legs at 6:04 p.m. and heard crying in the darkness. He rushed the newborn baby to Sequoia Hospital, where nurses dubbed the 6-pound, 4-ounce blue-eyed girl “Miraculous Mary.”
Today that 18-year-old is about to graduate from Sequoia High School with a 3.5 grade-point average. She begins attending the University of Arizona in Tucson on a near-full scholarship this fall, majoring in psychology and English.
Her adoptive name is Ashley Nicole Wyrick, and she is pretty enough that she was signed by a large modeling agency during her junior year. But she says she voluntarily decided to stop pursuing that goal in order to finish school without interference.
“Ashley is just an amazing girl, smart, well-liked and she has a good head on her shoulders,” said Sequoia High School science teacher Ron Gordon, who has taught her in several classes.
Leo and Georgia Wyrick of Redwood City adopted Ashley as an infant, and the family thrived for 10 years. Then the couple divorced and custody went to her father, who shockingly came down with cancer and passed away within a year.
During Leo Wyrick's final illness, 11-year-old Ashley stayed mostly with her adoptive mother's daughter, Serenë Herrmann, because she is very close to her three-years-older stepsister, Kelly. Serenë Herrmann became Ashley's new guardian, and Ashley now thinks of Georgia Wyrick and her second husband as grandparents.
Meanwhile, CHP Officer Gibbons, who became Ashley's godfather, remains close to the family.
“When I was 6 or 7, I found the nurses' scrapbook of 1987 press clippings,” Ashley said. “That's how I learned I was adopted. I feel very good about growing up with my family, and I don't care if I ever find out anything about my birth mother.”