New Jersey Truck Driver, Son of Midwife, Delivered Third Baby While on the Job

Trucker Michael Hawthorne carries an emergency birthing kit while on the road.

ByABC News
April 10, 2012, 1:45 PM

April 11, 2012— -- Truck driver Michael Hawthorne pulled over shortly before midnight on an isolated stretch of interstate, 75 miles northwest of Dallas, to check his load when he noticed another car was parked nearby.

"Someone started running over to me," Hawthorne said. "He told me his wife was in labor and he has no phone service. I had no phone service either," Hawthorne told

But the veteran trucker knew just what he had to do. It's in his genes-- his mother and grandmother were midwives.

"I went ahead, got my bottle of water, gloves and birth kit and took it to the car," he said.

Not every trucker carries a "birth kit," which for Hawthorne includes alcohol, water, cotton swabs, latex gloves, a suction device, scissors and shoe laces, but Hawthorne is used to making early deliveries.

Over the past 13 years, the career truck driver has delivered three babies on the side of the road.

With blaring car horns in the background, and frantic fathers desperately trying to reach 911, Hawthorne said he tries to remain calm for the births, just how his grandmother and mother taught him.

"That first time, I was a little nervous. I was just trying to remember everything I learned [from them]," he said.

The driver, who works for Vineland, N.J.-based NFI Industries and has worked as a driver with various companies over the past 20 years, came across his latest special delivery on March 27.

"The state police showed up. Meanwhile I am trying to keep the mother calmed. The mother gave birth. I cleaned it up what I could, wrapped the baby in a towel."

Hawthorne helped deliver a healthy baby boy just as first responders arrived, NFI Industries said on its website. The newest addition to Jack and Tammy Smith's family was 19 inches long and weighed 6 pounds and 10 ounces.

His first delivery was in 1999.

"I was at the truck stop in Ontario, California, and me and a couple of guys were standing out in front of our trucks BSing. We kept hearing someone honking the horn and it kept on going, so I thought someone might be in trouble," he said. "I went and took a look and a lady told me that her water is broke and she is in labor."

The woman had just gone grocery shopping and Hawthorne was able to use some of her purchases to assist in the birthing process, including rubber gloves and shoe laces.

His second delivery was a baby girl under a roadway bridge in Baltimore.

In the dizzying moment of his latest delivery, the Smiths didn't get the opportunity to get Hawthorne's name, but they did note the name of his trucking company.

The next day a dispatcher at the company's local office found a letter taped to a window and forwarded it to Hawthorne's bosses in N.J.

Aside from his special deliveries, Hawthorne has run to the rescue of several others in harm's way.

As a tornado approached a car in 2000, Hawthorne ran from where he was safely waiting out the storm, and cut a child's jammed car seat belt buckle. Moments later the car was tossed around by the tornado, he said.

Hawthorne once also helped a man who was suffering a heart attack, and he has helped a biker with heat stroke, he said.

"Mike is an extraordinary individual and we're proud to have him as part of the NFI family," CEO Sidney Brown said in a statement. The company plans to nominate him for a Highway Angel Award, which would be his third.

The award, which is given by the Truckload Carriers Association, honors truck drivers who have committed heroic acts on the road.

"They're just decent people. They really are. They're out on the road and they want to help people," said Michael Nellenbach, communications director for the Truckload Carriers Association. "If they see a problem, they're not going to walk away from it or drive away from it."

Michael Hawthorne said he doesn't know why he keeps encountering these emergency situations, but he said he is thankful he can help.

"I don't know how it happens, whether it's fate or goodwill,'' he said. "And if someone is putting me in these positions, I wish they'd stop."