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Katie Ryan-Anderson, Forum Communications Co., Published August 21 2010

Couple gets special delivery in back of SUV

In Latin, the name “Leo” means “lion.” If Leo Joshua Gackle’s birth is any indication, his father says the name is a perfect fit.

“He kind of came in with a roar,” said his father, Jordan Gackle of Kulm, N.D.

Baby Leo was born three days early on Tuesday in the back seat of his parents’ car.

But Leo seemed more like a lamb Thursday morning. The baby made no noise and barely moved save for a small smile. Tuesday, however, was another story.

Gackle and his wife, Sarah, headed for Jamestown Hospital around 4 p.m. after his wife said her contractions had intensified. She felt contractions at 5 a.m., but they were seven minutes apart. By 11 a.m., contractions were still five minutes apart and relatively easy.

Mother to 2-year-old Alice, Sarah Gackle said she thought she had plenty of time and didn’t expect baby Leo to come so quickly. She’d had an epidural when she gave birth to her daughter and, assuming she’d have enough time, told her husband she wanted the same for the delivery of their second child.

“I pushed for hours with Alice,” she said, saying for that delivery, she was in labor for 11 hours.

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sarah Gackle knew it was time. On the drive north, as his wife tried to minimize her pain in the backseat, Jordan Gackle timed the contractions: 3½ minutes apart at Edgeley – even closer 10 miles later. At the edge of town, contractions occurred back-to-back.

“I thought, ‘This is coming really fast,’ ” Jordan Gackle said.

Fearing the baby would come before the hospital arrival, he sped up, driving nearly 70 mph on U.S. Highway 281 in Jamestown. At the bridge near Interstate 94, he pulled over, exited the vehicle and ran to the side door.

The door was locked. He ran back to the front to unlock the doors before he could attend to his wife and baby boy.

“I opened the door, and the head was already coming out,” he said.

Stressed, anxious and full of adrenaline, he yelled for help.

Kevin Arthaud, chief of security at the James River Correctional Center, heeded the call.

Originally, Arthaud thought Jordan Gackle was an erratic driver. He said he noticed Gackle’s Ford Escape speeding down the highway and at one point even drove in front of the couple to try to slow them down.

But after just completing four hours of CPR training, Arthaud thought if this was an emergency, maybe he could lend a hand.

“When he yelled, ‘Can somebody help me,’ I figured it was a heart attack patient or something,” Arthaud said.

My wife is having a baby, Gackle said he remembers telling Arthaud.

“I said, ‘Jump into the driver’s seat and take us to the hospital,’ ” Gackle said.

So Arthaud parked his pickup at a nearby gas station and, with an escort from the Jamestown Police Department, drove the family to the hospital in the Gackles’ SUV. Arthaud had never met the couple and didn’t even know their names.

A father himself, Arthaud said he remembers feeling scared and nerve-racked at the births of his two sons.

“Those are things that every male parent ... worries about,” he said.

At the hospital, Dr. Tonia Hoggarth and a team of medical professionals stood ready at the emergency room door. The doctor attended to mom and baby upon arrival within the Ford Escape.

Born 6 pounds, 14 ounces and 20 inches long, baby Leo is healthy. Mom and Dad are, too, said Renae Lunde, registered nurse at Jamestown Hospital.

In Lunde’s eight years with the hospital, three or four babies have been born in a vehicle, one of them on her watch.

The couple said they feel blessed about the birth and delivery but wouldn’t recommend it to others.

“I don’t think either of us would want that to happen again,” Gackle said.

Katie Ryan-Anderson is a reporter at The Jamestown Sun