Baby waits out flat tire before birth

November 22, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The inside lane of the Eisenhower Expressway late at night is not the best place or time to have a flat tire.

It's especially bad when you're carrying a mother in labor and you're on the way to the hospital.

That's what Jim Wideikis was thinking Monday night as he was forced to pull over with a flat, his wife having contractions in the passenger seat.

"8 miles out of the city, I've got to get my wife to the hospital and there's really nothing I can do except sit there and kind of wait," said Wideikis.

Wideikis says the west suburban couple had just bought a new SUV to accommodate the new baby, but he had no idea how to change or even find the spare tire, so he called 911.

That brought IDOT minuteman Jerome Lockhart to the scene. He quickly figured out what was going on.

"I saw her breathing, and I saw his anxiety, and I knew I just had to hurry up and get 'em going," said Lockhart.

The couple was coming from their home in Riverside to Northwestern's Prentice Hospital to deliver the baby and they were intent on making it. Neither daddy nor minuteman was prepared to deliver the baby on the side of the road.

"I think that would've been very, very difficult - I don't think I'm qualified to do that," said Wideikis.

"It was a bad place to have a baby," said Lockhart. "My job is to change tires, not deliver babies."

Minutes after arriving at the hospital, Mollie Marie made her entrance into the world weighing 7 pounds 11 ounces. Mother and baby were doing well Tuesday night.

Lockhart's been working as a minuteman for nearly a dozen years. He's changed countless tires, but his is the first time he's had to do it under this kind of pressure.

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