If you find yourself in an emergency on the highway, Michael Hawthorne is the man you want to pull up along side you.
Hawthorne, a truck driver for NFI, has helped deliver 3 babies, saved a baby from a tornado, helped a heat stroke victim and kept an elderly man alive, who had suffered a heart attack while changing his tire.
Hawthorne learned a lot about childbirth from his mom and grandmother who were midwives in rural Missouri– something that would come in handy over the years.
I never helped them actually deliver, but I eventually was allowed to watch and saw several dozen babies born, said Hawthorne, My mom and grandmother said it would be good for me to know because I might have to deliver a baby some day.
Little did he know, that day would come.
In 1999, Hawthrone was talking with a group of fellow truckers at an Ontario, California truck stop, when he heard a car horn blaring. Hawthorne went to investigate and found a woman in active labor.
It was nerve-racking, said Hawthorne, who ended up delivering a baby boy. I was trying to stay calm and calm the mother and the father who showed up. Cars are going around us, but nobody else stopped to help. Then the father passed out in back of the car and the police finally showed up after the baby was born.
It was nerve-racking, said Hawthorne. I was trying to stay calm and calm the mother and the father who showed up. Cars are going around us, but nobody else stopped to help. Then the father passed out in back of the car and the police finally showed up after the baby was born.
For his act of bravery, Hawthorne was awarded the TCA Highway Hero Award.
After that experience, Hawthorne prepared an emergency birthing kit. He gathered alcohol, water, cotton swabs, latex gloves, a nasal aspirator, scissors and shoelaces… just in case.
At it turned out, Hawthorne’s emergency birthing kit was needed in 2010 when he stopped to help a motorist stopped on the roadway, in Baltimore. The motorist was in labor. Hawthorne ended up delivering a baby girl before emergency help could arrive.
I feel like I’m a doctor in a mobile hospital unit on 18 wheels, said Hawthrone I don’t consider myself an angel or what some people say ” a hero. It feels good to help folks when it is all said and done.
Hawthorne’s most recent delivery occured on March 27, 2012 in Waxahachie, Texas, when Hawthorne pulled up behind a car parked on a long stretch of deserted highway.
It was the middle of nowhere, he recalled. The father came running to the truck and said I needed to call 911 because his wife was about to have a baby. There was no cell service in the area.
When I realized what was going on ” that the wife in the car might be having a baby ” I said to myself, ˜Oh, no, not again!’ So, I reached for my gloves and water and went to help Mom out in the back seat and tried to keep her calm.
A state patrolman, driving through the area, stopped to help and radioed for medical help, but Hawthorne delivered the baby boy before they arrived.
The parents, Jack and Tammy Smith, of Dallas, didn’t know Hawthorne’s last name but knew the name of the company he worked for and tracked him down. They wrote a letter to NFI telling them of Hawthorne’s act.
He is our hero, Jack Smith wrote in the note. Without him, I don’t know what could have happened.
A spokesman for NFI told The Daily Journal the company plans to nominate Hawthorne for another Highway Angel award.
Hawthorne’s acts of bravery don’t only include the delivery of babies. In 2000, Hawthorne was driving on the Ohio Turnpike when it started to rain heavily and hail. Hawthorne’s truck was being rocked with strong winds.
It was blowing my 18-wheeler around, so I went for a bridge (underpass) where another truck was already parked, said Hawthorne, who was aware a tornado warning had been issued.
Then I saw a woman with her arms in the air and screaming, but I could hardly hear her for the wind. She came over and told me ¦ her husband could not get their baby out of its car seat.
Hawthorne ran to the car and saw the baby’s shoulder harness had jammed in the buckle. He cut the belt with his pocket knife and grabbed the 9-month-old boy and raced with the child’s father back to the underpass.
When we got to the bridge, we saw the tornado go right by us and take the car with it, he said. According to Hawthorne, the car was blown 75 feet into a grove of trees, where it landed on its roof.
I was shaken up and when I thought about what I’d done I told myself, ˜You’re an idiot!’
After saving the baby, Hawthorne received his second Highway Hero nomination.
Hawthorne said he doesn’t know why he finds himself in these emergency situations and says he wishes they would stop.
I guess it’s fate, he said. I don’t know how to explain it.”
Hawthorne has simply been at the right place, at the right time.