Life in the Fast Lane : Speeding Car Stopped, and Mother Delivers

Times Staff Writer

It wasn't the first time a speeding driver had tried the "Hey, I'm taking my wife to the hospital, she's having a baby" excuse.

And so it was with a hint of skepticism that Irvine Police Officers Laurie Banwell and Gary Harvey nodded and replied, "Sure, right, buddy," after they had chased the car several miles at 85 m.p.h. and finally pulled it over on the San Diego Freeway early Friday.

Sgt. Dick Bowman said the car caught their attention at 5:45 a.m. near Jeffrey Road and Irvine Center Drive when the officers, nearing the end of their shift, noticed a woman in the front seat with her head jerking back and forth.

Banwell and Harvey steered their patrol car behind the vehicle as it entered the 405 Freeway.

As he weaved back and forth on the northbound lanes, the driver accelerated past the speed limit and refused to either slow down or pull over as Banwell and Harvey pursued the car into Fountain Valley, Bowman said.

With sirens and flashing red lights, Fountain Valley police and California Highway Patrol officers soon joined the chase. It was only after patrol cars had surrounded the vehicle that it stopped near the Brookhurst Street off-ramp.

"I'm taking my wife to the hospital. She's having a baby," Charles Cleveland Walker, 27, told the officers frantically. Uh-huh, the officers replied. Then they looked closely at his passenger.

"I'm having a baby," Dionita Bald Walker told them. "Right now. "

Moments after they carried the 27-year-old woman to their patrol car, Banwell and Harvey delivered the Tustin couple's third child, a boy, on the back seat.

Paramedics arrived to help out toward the end of the birth, and the mother and her newborn were taken to Fountain Valley Community Hospital, where they were both reported in good condition.

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