published Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Baby wins 100 mph race to Erlanger hospital

Shaina Luce holds her newborn daughter, Sybella, in front of the Mustang she was born in Wednesday night. 
Staff photo by Shelly Bradbury
Shaina Luce holds her newborn daughter, Sybella, in front of the Mustang she was born in Wednesday night. Staff photo by Shelly Bradbury

When car mechanic Justin Luce traded for his 2002 Mustang GT a month ago, he knew it was fast. But he never imagined that, rushing his pregnant wife to the hospital, its 400 horsepower engine wouldn't be quite fast enough.

Shaina Luce was a little on edge Wednesday. She was scheduled to be induced at 4 a.m. Thursday, and she hoped the baby didn't come early. But it looked like her new daughter was going to wait until the early morning appointment.

She sat down in a recliner and told Justin she'd pack her hospital bag after a quick nap.

"I closed my eyes, rolled over and it was literally right then," she said. "I said, 'Honey, my water broke!'"

Justin jumped up.

"No way, are you serious?" he said, then raced outside. He threw some blankets over the black leather seats in his torch red-and-gunmetal Mustang and Shaina climbed into the passenger seat.

They took off down South Seminole Drive, heading straight to Erlanger hospital. Friends and family followed behind in a red pickup truck. Four minutes into the drive, Shaina started to scream.

"I'm gonna have her," she shouted, taking her pants off. "I'm gonna have her right here!"

Justin stepped on the gas. The speedometer climbed to 80, 90, 100 mph. He called 911.

The 911 operator told him to pull over and she'd talk him through the delivery.

"I'm a mechanic; I'm not a doctor!" he yelled back. "I'm not pulling over."

"Sir," she said, "Calm down. And slow down."

"You calm down," he shouted. "You have no clue what I'm going through right now!"

"Help is on the way," she said.

"Well, I'm not stopping," he shot back.

Shaina pushed the passenger seat all the way back and picked up her knees. Justin looked over and saw the baby's head.

"I was screaming. I was in pain," Shaina said. "The first instinct was just to do what I've seen doctors do with my other four kids and just pull her out."

When he spotted the head, Justin immediately pulled into an empty parking lot at East Main Street and Dodds Avenue.

"As soon as I saw the baby, I couldn't drive anymore," he said. "I saw the firetruck coming and I pulled over."

By the time he put the car in park, the baby was out. It was 10:22 p.m. But their new daughter wasn't crying. She wasn't even breathing. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck.

With help from her friends, Shaina unwrapped the cord and put a finger in her baby's mouth to clear her airway. She rubbed her daughter's back and chest. The infant finally took a breath and let out a cry.

Then the paramedics pulled up and took over.

Their 7 pound, 5 ounce daughter had some bruising on her face and purple spots from where she had almost suffocated -- but she'll be fine.

They named her Sybella Marie Rose Luce. Shaina said the name means "beautiful angel of God."

"She's a miracle," she said. "I would never take back this memory in my life. It was the scariest, coolest, awkward, painful experience in my life."

And when Sybella turns 16, the Mustang is hers, Justin said.

"I've never, and probably never will again, witness anything like that again," he said.

Shaina's fifth child -- and only natural birth -- may already have a nickname, Shaina said.

"When I got to the hospital after I had her, I started calling her Mustang Sally," she said with a laugh.

Now that Sybella's safe, will they have more children?

"No," they said in unison.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury joined the Times Free Press as a business reporter in January 2013, after starting with the paper as a general assignment intern in July 2012. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint Hill Times. Outside the newsroom, Shelly enjoys ...

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