Human Interest

Strangers help when baby is born on Pennsylvania Turnpike: ‘I always wanted to witness this’

A mile marker on the Pennsylvania Turnpike has new meaning for a couple after they unexpectedly gave birth there on the side of the road.

Nick and Sarah Holmes gave birth to their daughter, Lottie, on mile marker 18.1 last month, according to a press release from the turnpike. Nick Holmes drove the turnpike daily for his job with People’s Gas, and frequently passed that mile marker, which now has new meaning for him.

Sarah Holmes told KDKA they were on their way to a midwifery center in Pittsburgh. “I was like, ‘We need to go, we need to leave,'” she said. “Our goal was the midwife center, that’s who I went through with her, that’s where we were going to deliver. Have like a nice water birth is what I was hoping for.”

But Lottie wasn’t going to wait. “Right after he said, ‘if you feel the need to push, we’ll pull over,’ and then my water broke and I was like, ‘my water broke,’ and within a couple minutes, I was like, ‘I gotta push,’ I was like, ‘she’s — it’s coming,” Sarah said.

Nick, a volunteer firefighter, relied on his training when he realized his wife was going to give birth, right then and there.

“I just jumped into action,” he said. “It’s one of those things that’s hard to explain unless you’re in that position. You think you’d be a nervous wreck, but you know what the end game has to be, and there were no other options at that point.”

Equipment Operator Bob Demko was washing his vehicle at the Homewood Maintenance Facility when he heard the call go out over the radio. “It sounded like they said a baby was coming or a baby was coming out,” Demko said. “It definitely makes your ears perk up.” So he jumped in his truck and headed there, beating the ambulance by 10 minutes.

READ: Baby born in McDonald’s parking lot given appropriately adorable nickname

While Nick Holmes stayed on the phone with 911, Demko tried to help however he could. “I was the first one there, and I got to see a lot of stuff I never in my life thought I’d see,” he said. “I don’t have kids, and I told my wife later that I always wanted to witness this, and never thought I would.”

He continued, “I asked them, ‘What do you need?’ And he said, ‘She’s doing all the work!”

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Erik Cox arrived shortly after Demko, and together, they helped make sure little Lottie was born safely.

“She was out in like, two-and-a-half pushes,” Sarah said.

Lottie weighed 8 lbs, 11 oz, and spent two days in the Allegheny Health Network Wexford Hospital NICU before heading home to join her family. “I’m super proud of my husband; he did so well,” Sarah said. “I wasn’t super freaked out or fearful; it was just a natural thing that had to happen.”

For Demko, it’s an experience he’ll never forget. “It was really nice to see something positive happen out there – a new life,” he said. “I’m just very happy I could be part of it.”

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