Twins won't wait for hospital, born on side of I-80
Parked along the remote salt flats off Interstate 80, the first of Lynette Hales' twins was born 10 weeks premature, breech and trapped in his amniotic sac. Jeffery Hales Jr. was 3 pounds and purplish gray.
Hales clawed through the tough membrane to free her son. He wasn't breathing.
"Breathe now, baby. Come on baby, you have to live," Hales can be heard pleading with her son on a phone call to 911 dispatchers during the birth Sunday.
One day later, Jeffery J.J. and his brother Anthony James A.J. were breathing on their own at Intermountain Medical Center's neonatal intensive care unit in Murray as their parents recounted the events that led to the roadside births.
Hales, 39, had traveled from her home in Sandy to Wendover for a weekend getaway with friends and coworkers "to get some relaxation" well before the twins' Aug. 11 due date, she said. Her husband and three children stayed home.
Instead, she woke up Sunday morning to bleeding and contractions. The nearest hospital was in Tooele, nearly two hours away. She asked coworker Jim Gerber for help.
"We thought we'd make a run for it," Hales said.
As Gerber pushed his green minivan up to 95 mph over the state line, he called police "to let them know, 'I'm coming through. If you see a green smear pass your car, ... don't pull me over!' "
Dispatcher Ashley Hunter warned Gerber: "You're getting to the middle of nowhere."
Then Hales realized that J.J. was on a schedule of his own.
"I knew that a baby was coming out when I reached down and felt a bag of water between my legs," she said.
Gerber pulled over across the highway from the Tree of Utah sculpture, more than 30 miles from the nearest troopers.
J.J. emerged, tiny and quiet.
Gerber, who received emergency medical training as a Naval hospital corpsman, performed CPR and breathed into the baby's mouth and nose.
"I was so scared that he wasn't going to make it, and my choice being out there was going to cause my babies to not live," Hales said.
Then, she said, J.J. looked up at her.
"I knew: Game on. This is a life. This is someone who's going to grow up," Hales said. She urged Gerber to continue CPR while dispatcher Hunter coached from the phone.
As troopers Cameron Fawson and Nathan Powell and Tooele County sheriff's Deputy Eric McCollum raced to the scene, "the story just kept getting worse and worse," Fawson recalled: What started as a pregnancy complication had escalated; an ambulance still was 20 minutes away and a helicopter would be another 40 minutes wait.
They arrived to find J.J. limp and purple. After a quick pass of a rubber bulb syringe, he began to regain his color. Then Hales' contractions began again. A.J. also was born breech but free to breathe; his first cry "was music," Hales said.
She was greeted at the hospital by her family.
"I didn't really break down until I ... saw my husband and mom," Hales said. "Everybody just took such good care of me."
The babies weren't the first set of twins to be born along I-80 in Tooele County, said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Jimmy Banks. A little more than a year ago, another sergeant delivered a set of twins.