Baby born on icy Houston freeway

February 4, 2011 3:16:30 PM PST
One of the most compelling stories of the day is that of the "ice baby." His pregnant mother was stranded on one of those icy overpasses, trying to get to the hospital. His worried father called 911. And when Houston EMTs arrived, they encountered that same treacherous patch of ice and a baby who would not wait. EMT Ryan Machacek recalled, "I was just praying to God I didn't hit that guardrail on the crossover."

Inside an ambulance that Machacek was driving was a pregnant woman giving birth. Machacek, of Fire Station 46, and his partner were called to an ice-covered overpass on North MacGregor over Highway 288. A woman in labor and her husband had spun out on the ice trying to get to the hospital. When the EMTs loaded her and started off, the ambulance hit the ice, too.

"The worst part is while we were skidding he asked me to stop because the baby's coming," Machacek said. "I told him, 'I'm trying to!' Luckily we didn't hit a guard rail or anything. We didn't hit a single thing."

When the ambulance skidded to a stop, Machacek ran to help. But the baby had been born during the skidding. His partner was holding the baby.

"When you see that they're fine it's a total relief, because that's off your shoulders," Machacek said.

EMT Donald Vigil was on a fire truck that arrived to block traffic for the ambulance.

He said, "It doesn't happen all the time, so when it does happen it's real special."

The ambulance finally got traction and went on to Ben Taub Hospital, with the baby's mother.

Machacek said, "She was extremely happy that everything went well, no complications with anything. We took her to the hospital and the nurses took over and they said everything seems fine."

"Everybody was excited," Vigil recalled. "We were waiting for them to get back. We made it back and they made it back 30 minutes after and we were basically clapping for them."

As is the custom when EMTs deliver a baby, Station 46 is planning a birthday party.

Ryan said he has to bring "Blue Bell ice cream and any kind of cake they want."

The baby is doing well at Ben Taub Hospital. His parents declined to go on camera, but it is a happy ending for the parents, the baby and for some warm-hearted EMTs not fazed by this icy, cold day.