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Omaha cop killed hours before she could start maternity leave

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.






Omaha cop killed in the line of duty, baby leaves hospital in onesie honoring her mother

Kerrie Orozco delivered a premature baby in February, named Olivia Ruth.

She learned the baby would spend months in the hospital until she was strong enough to go home with her mother. And so, with only 12 weeks guaranteed maternity leave, the Omaha cop had to make what must have been an almost unbearable decision: After delivering Olivia Ruth, 29-year-old Orozco would leave her fragile baby's side to return to her job so she could save her precious little maternity leave for when her baby was home and needed her most.

Those weeks on the job with her tiny baby girl sick in the hospital must have been agonizing. But she made it. Orozco had just a few hours left to work on her shift last Thursday, and then she would be home, blissfully with her baby.

But she never made it. Before she finished her shift, Orozco was killed on the job while trying to serve an arrest warrant on "convicted felon and known gang member" 26-year-old Marcus Wheeler.

Orozco doesn't just leave tiny Olivia Ruth behind. She's also survived by her husband, Hector, and two stepkids, Natalie and Santiago.

To honor her memory, her tiny baby, Olivia Ruth, wore a onesie made just for her that read "Keep Calm and Kerrie On." The beautiful gesture and gut-wrenching reminder that Olivia isn't going to have her mother is going viral.

Here's baby Olivia Ruth in her onesie honoring her mother's sacrifice.

The community is rallying around Orozco's family, and there continues to be an outpouring of support for the tiny baby and her family, who now face a future without Kerrie.

In the meantime, let's honor Kerrie Orozco by working harder to protect our young mothers who are out there making incredibly tough decisions to keep their jobs and raise their families. Imagine if Kerrie would have had the kind of paid maternity leave protections most women around the world are guaranteed. She might have been with Olivia Ruth. She might be with her right now.

More on the pathetic state of maternity leave in the U.S.

How dismal maternity leave policies affect real women in the United States
Maternity leave vs. FMLA leave
How U.S. maternity leave policies compare to other countries (INFOGRAPH)

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