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CHP officer resuscitates baby after woman gives birth to boy on I-5 in south Sacramento

Meet the baby who was delivered on Interstate 5

California Highway Patrol Officer Phil Dibene of the South Sacramento division helped to resuscitate a baby after a woman gave birth to a boy on the side of northbound Interstate 5 Monday night in unincorporated Sacramento County.
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California Highway Patrol Officer Phil Dibene of the South Sacramento division helped to resuscitate a baby after a woman gave birth to a boy on the side of northbound Interstate 5 Monday night in unincorporated Sacramento County.

Tiffana LeMaster was terrified. She was in her Chevrolet Tahoe on the side of the highway on a cold Monday night and her baby was a sickly blue — he wasn’t breathing.

Little Ezekiel was laying on her chest when she realized he wasn’t crying at all. LeMaster was disoriented and exhausted, but she knew something was wrong.

That’s when California Highway Patrol Officer Phil Dibene of the south Sacramento division sprung into action. He picked up Ezekiel and gave him a few solid smacks on the back to clear his airway.

The boy sputtered and coughed, filling his lungs with air for the first time.

Ezekiel’s father, Calvin Thompson, delivered the baby moments earlier on northbound Interstate 5 in unincorporated Sacramento County farmland near Lambert Road.

“It was overwhelming for sure,” LeMaster said Tuesday. “I don’t think I was going to survive that ... of course, I did.”

LeMaster and Thompson were on their way from their Stockton home toward Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where their first child, 2-year-old Clive, was born.

Ezekiel was overdue by four days, so when her water broke at home and her contractions intensified, LeMaster knew they had to leave right away.

They were about 15 minutes north of Stockton when she knew Ezekiel was on his way.

“He definitely had his mind made up as far as his own time line because I thought we had plenty of time — and he was ready,” LeMaster said.

Thompson was on the phone with fire dispatchers who were guiding them through childbirth when they pulled over.

Dibene arrived, and before he knew it, the baby had already been born.

“I didn’t even really realize it right away that he wasn’t breathing,” LeMaster said. “I just handed him to (Dibene) and I just said, ‘Fix him.’ “

Dibene, for his part, knew roadside deliveries are always a possibility in his line of work, so he stayed calm and later commended LeMaster and Thompson for handling everything so well, too.

“He came into the world in a very chaotic way and here he is, very peaceful, sitting in my arms,” Dibene said while holding Ezekiel in the nursery at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. “I’m very proud to be a part of it, and I’m just elated that everything turned out well.”

Ezekiel took a little while to regain his color, LeMaster said, but he’s now healthy.

“Probably don’t want to do it again?” Dibene asked. “Right shoulder of I-5 probably wasn’t a top destination.”

LeMaster and Thompson agreed, sharing a laugh while Ezekiel snoozed in the officer’s arms.

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