An officer with the Atlanta Police Department was on a routine patrol shift one night when he suddenly found himself delivering a baby at a gas station.
Lieutenant Renato Anaya, a 21-year veteran with the APD, was patrolling in southwest Atlanta around midnight on June 25 with partner Sergeant Thomas when he was flagged down by a white SUV that was honking and shining its high beams to get the officers’ attention.
Inside the car were James Watson and his pregnant wife Nicole, who were on their way to the hospital but couldn’t make it in time.
The couple didn’t make it far from their home before stopping at a gas station on their way to the hospital.
“I had to realize that we weren’t going to make it to the hospital. I just told him to pull over, and I had to kind of resolve that he was going to come in my car at a gas station,” Nicole said. “I didn’t know how safely we could do this, but I also didn’t want to be driving down the road and have him come out.”
Officers Anaya and Thomas did not hesitate to assist the soon-to-be mother, guiding the couple through the birthing process to deliver the baby while also notifying dispatch to send firefighters or Grady paramedics as soon as possible.
Anaya said that as a police officer, you have to be ready for anything.
“You just have to expect the unexpected,” Anaya said the week after the incident. “I always keep that in mind. So even though we’re out there patrolling, you just have to be ready for whatever comes at you.”
By the time the officers began to assist, James said he was already holding the baby’s head and shoulders.
When Anaya took over, his calm demeanor helped settle everyone’s nerves. The baby boy was safely delivered and in the officer’s arms by 12:16 a.m.
“Baby is out. Baby boy. Congratulations,” Anaya said in body camera footage. As a father of three himself, Anaya said he was driven by his own paternal instincts. He said he was not nervous during the experience but excited.
When the baby started to cry, everyone was relieved. The Watsons, who now have three children, named the boy Jace.
“The family did an outstanding job, especially mom, and we are extremely happy for them and their new baby boy,” the APD said in a news release.
James Watson said that paramedics arrived soon after and transported the family to the hospital within 20 minutes.
“He is phenomenal,” Nicole said of the baby. “He’s past his birth weight. He’s doing great.”
While not many police officers can say they have delivered a baby on the job, it’s always a possibility. Last year, an officer in Swansea delivered a baby on Mother’s Day.