BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Troopers Luis Valle and Tony Lee of the Somerville "B" State Police Barracks helped to deliver a baby early Tuesday morning along Route 287 in the midst of rush hour.
Valle had just pulled on to Route 287 to start his Tuesday shift when a motorist trying to beat backed-up rush hour traffic veered off on to the shoulder to bypass the stuck motorists. Valle pulled him over and was about to issue a ticket when another vehicle pulled up behind his police cruiser.
The driver, Lou Ingles, jumped out from behind wheel and told Valle his wife was in labor, ready to deliver a baby. The heavy traffic had prevented Ingles and his wife, Cecilia, from making much progress after leaving their home in Warren County.
It was 8:04 a.m.
Valle radioed for EMTs, but it was obvious the baby wasn't going to wait.
In the meantime, Lee arrived to assist.
"The father was calm, we were there pretty much to support him, keep everything under control," Lee said. "We were fortunate to be in the area."
Ingles had the foresight to grab some towels before leaving their home in Warren County.
Just a few minutes after their arrival, Lee and Valle helped Ingles deliver his son, Matteo.
"We were just the cheerleaders; the father caught the baby," Lee said.
"He was crying as soon as he came out."
The towels were put to good use as father and son bonded for the first time.
When paramedics from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital/Somerset and the Bridgewater First Aid Squad arrived, they provided additional treatment to the mother and newborn, but did not have a clamp to use when cutting the umbilical cord.
Lee improvised, went back to his patrol car and grabbed the cord to his phone charger; the paramedics used it in place of the clamp to tie off the cord so that it could be snipped.
Then, it was back to the road to continue their patrols, clearing accidents on the busy interstate on a rainy day.
Mom and baby were transported by ambulance to St. Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick where they were listed in stable condition. Matteo weighed in at a 7 pounds, 11 ounces.
The troopers did take some time to drive to the New Brunswick hospital to visit with the family and pose for a few pictures.
"Everyone was relieved that it all turned out good," Valle said.
For Valle, going on four years as a Trooper, and Lee, a Trooper for nine years, this was their first delivery of a newborn.
Three weeks ago, another trooper from Somerville Barracks B - Chris Tesualdo - delivered a baby alongside Route 287 in Berkeley Heights.
As for the driver riding on the shoulder, Valle cut him loose - with a warning.