COSTA MESA — Patience is one virtue this baby has yet to learn.
An infant couldn't wait to be born Monday morning, forcing her parents to call 911 and stop to deliver her at Newport Boulevard and 19th Street — a location some two miles short of their eventual destination down the hill at Hoag Hospital.
"I was in the area when the call came out. I was closer, so I took it," said Costa Mesa police Officer Allen Rieckhof. "Dad was like, 'Come here! Come here!' There's the mother in the passenger seat, spread eagle, and I'm like, 'Oh!'"
The parents, whom police declined to identify, were rushing to the hospital when they ran out of time.
"It came so fast, the head was crowning," Rieckhof said. "The baby came in less than a minute."
When the girl was born, another officer was there to wrap her in an emergency blanket — the only useful tool they had at the time — and hand her to Mom.
"I don't have anything on my gun belt to deal with a baby," Rieckhof said. "The baby delivered normal and started crying almost instantly. I congratulated Mom and Dad, and the medics came and did their thing."
Rieckhof said he'd assisted in delivering a baby on the job once before, when he worked in Orange.
As it turns out, he said, the newborn is his former partner's granddaughter. The father is an Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy recruit, who presumably got the day off, Rieckhof said.
Before long, Rieckhof was back to work.
"I went and cleaned up in a restroom and within minutes I went to a next call about two guys fighting," he said. "It's weird. You're on cloud nine for one second and the next second you're going, 'OK, I'm back to being locked on and worrying about officer safety.'
"Twenty years on the job, I'm kind of used to it."