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Baby makes freeway entrance

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PROVO — If history repeats itself again, newborn Zackary Mark Johnson will grow up to be a highway patrolman.

Bursting into the world Tuesday evening off the side of northbound I-15 in Springville, little Zackary was delivered by father, Ben, and Utah Highway patrolman Sterling Clark.

Clark himself is a backseat baby, though he forgot that detail until he shared his unusual experience with his mother Tuesday. She then reminded him that he was born in the back of a pickup, one mile from an Arizona hospital, by his Navajo medicine man grandfather.

"It was a unique situation between the two of us," Clark said. "To me, it was out of the ordinary."

Zackary's dad agrees. "It was kind of ironic."

Another irony is that he and his wife, Kristina, spent most of Tuesday at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center (UVMC), but left for their Payson home when her labor stopped progressing.

Home about 10 minutes, the couple turned back as Kristina's contractions picked up. With her husband driving 100 mph, Kristina's water broke outside of Springville and she demanded that he pull over.

"He wanted out in Spanish (Fork)," Ben said of Zackary, "But he held out for Springville, I guess."

As the couple pulled over, Clark followed them, receiving word over the police radio that the Johnsons had requested 911 assistance in delivering a baby. When Clark arrived, Zackary quickly "popped out" and into his father's arms.

"I was right there, crouched and waiting," Ben recalled. "It was a 6 pound-11 ounce catch."

Ben shortly discovered that Zackary wasn't breathing. Working with a UHP birthing kit, Clark used a syringe bulb to clear the baby's nose. Zackary immediately began wailing.

"It was just kind of unique that your training that you've gone through, that you never thought of using, just kind of kicks in," Clark said. "It was being at the right place at the right time."

Mother and son rested at UVMC Wednesday, enjoying post-delivery luxuries without the delivery cost. Kristina, too tired to comment, is adjusting to the unusual circumstances of Zackary's birth, her husband said.

"She told me, 'I just don't want to have this baby on the way here,' " Ben said.

Now that all is said and done, however, he is just excited to get back to normal after Kristina and Zackary are released today.

"I think he's had enough adventure — I know I have."

Meanwhile, Ben is marveling on the connection between his son and Clark. He threatens to call Zackary "Highway Man" and jokes about a future career in law enforcement.

But future curbside deliveries are out of the question, Ben said.

"I think we'll try and stick with the hospital taking care of it next time."

E-mail: lsanderson@desnews.com