Both California Highway Patrol and Texas Highway Patrol honored a San Jose woman this week for heroically delivering a baby on the side of the road after witnessing a horrific car crash that killed the pregnant mother.
Iria Wolnick was traveling in southern Texas back in July when she witnessed a horrible car crash on Highway 77 near Corpus Christi. Wolnick was on the way to her mother’s funeral when the accident happened, and when she realized that there were no other cars for miles, she knew she had to spring into action.
A young family was in the car that accidentally veered off the highway and flipped over. All three family members, which included a two-year-old boy, his father and his pregnant mother, were ejected from the vehicle, and Wolnick knew she had to help them. Both the two-year-old son, Adrallis Ortega, and his father, Edward Ortega, were injuried, but the mother, Niser Saldana-Quilantan, 19, was seriously wounded. Wolnick noticed wounds in Quilantan’s abdomen and was shocked to see her unborn baby’s arm and the top of its head protruding from the wounds. Although she was not trained in the medical field, Wolnick knew she had no choice but to deliver the baby as Quilantan quickly lost blood.
“She kept asking, ‘Ma’am how’s my baby? How’s my baby?’" said Wolnick. “I thought she was asking about the toddler, but then I looked down and saw her stomach.”
Wolnick said giving birth to four children helped her figure out what to do when delivering the baby.
“Four kids later, you sort of have an idea what needs to happen,” said Wolnick. “Making sure the umbilical cord is tied, preventing blood from coming out, keeping the baby warm. All those sort of things. The adrenaline just kicks in and you just spring into action or panic. I sprung into action.”
Tragically, Quilantan died on the way to the hospital, but Wolnick was able to save the healthy baby girl. Now, the young boy, his father and the infant are recovered and doing well.
“It has changed my life for good,” said Wolnick. “The baby will be in my thoughts forever. You get a new perspective on life. I’ve gotten a couple texts from the father, but I’ve wanted to give him time to mourn.”
Wolnick was honored by both the California and the Texas Highway Patrols this week, receiving a plaque to honor her for the heroic act.
“For someone with limited training, to be acting only on instinct, to do something like this, well, she deserves this and a lot more,” said California Highway Patrol Captain Les Bishop. “It's something you would expect from law enforcement or a paramedic, but from a citizen. It's truly extraordinary.”