The father panicked. He had pulled into the breakdown lane of Route 100 in Anne Arundel County, just as Melissa Dicus gave birth to a girl in the front seat of his Chevrolet Impala. The infant, struggling to breathe, had turned blue.
Loren Edward Weinstein raced around the car, grabbing blankets and shirts from the back seat. That's what Maryland State Police Sgt. Daniel McLain saw as he drove into work, slowed by Monday morning's rush-hour commute near Route 10 in Pasadena.
McLain stopped his unmarked cruiser and rushed to the Impala, urged on by a frantic Weinstein, and grabbed the infant. The umbilical cord was still attached. The 25-year-old mother, the trooper said, had joined the father in "freaking out."
The 20-year police veteran with four children of his own, between 11 and 18 years old, said the baby was face up in the mother's lap. "I grabbed the baby and flipped it over, face down, and began massaging the back and rubbing the feet," the sergeant said.
His hand was on the baby's chest, and he could feel her heart beat, but she was struggling to breathe. He turned the infant over and cleared mucus from her nose and mouth, then turned the baby over again and repeated massaging. "She changed from blue, slowly, to pink," McLain said.
By that point, an ambulance crew arrived. Paramedics cut the umbilical cord and took mother and baby to Baltimore Washington Medical Center, where everyone was reported to be in good spirits and fine health.
The 29-year-old Weinstein had nearly made it to the emergency room.
"He was two exits away," McLain said.
In fact, this was at least the fourth time since January that parents in Anne Arundel County didn't arrive at the hospital in time. Three babies were born on county roadsides in a three-week span in January, two during an ice storm.
And it wasn't McLain's first time rescuing a newborn in distress, either. The sergeant works in the Maryland State Police quartermaster's division in Jessup, where he's in charge of supplies. Shortly before he joined the state police, he was a volunteer firefighter, and he said he resuscitated a baby who had just been born on a bed.
This time, McLain said, as soon as he saw Weinstein grabbing clothes out of the car, he suspected that once again he was in the right place at the right time. "I pretty much knew what it was," he said. "Either somebody was seriously injured in the car or it was a baby."
McLain didn't administer full CPR, a bit tricky on a fragile baby. Between the mother screaming and the father "hyperventilating," the trooper said, "I just did the best I could. I did it the way we are trained, and things turned out good. It's good to be there when people want you to be there."
A few hours later, McLain drove to the hospital to see how everything turned out. "I shook a few hands and got hugged a few times," he said. He met the mother, the father — both from Pasadena — an uncle and other happy relatives. A hospital spokesman said the mother did not want to be interviewed.
Relatives told McLain the name of the baby he had saved, but the sergeant confessed that amid the flurry of hugs and handshakes, "I can't remember."