Babies that want to be born wait for nobody.
And for newcomers to York County – a place with thousands of new people – directions to the hospital at 3 a.m. with a screaming mother-to-be can be impossible.
Yet a stroke of luck coupled with York County deputies in the right place at the right time in an age when police are under heightened scrutiny in America, a pair of officers in Fort Mill in the wee hours Thursday went above and beyond ‘serve and protect.’
Deputies John Stagner, a tough veteran field-training officer, and rookie Blake Haynes helped a baby enter the world.
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“I didn’t even get their names,” said Morgan Varn, proud mother of 5-pound-15-ounce Nala Varn, of the officers.
Varn, as pregnant as she could be, didn’t have time to get names Thursday morning, as she woke up around 3 a.m. and found “my water broke.”
Any woman who has had a child knows the words “water broke” means rush – and Varn already has another child – so rush she did, with boyfriend Michael Saunders Jr.
The couple left Varn’s parents’ home in the Springfield neighborhood of Fort Mill for the hospital just a few miles away – but there wasn’t even time for that.
“I knew we wouldn’t make it,” Varn said. “I was panicking.”
They called 911 for an ambulance; but the couple, in York County just weeks, don’t know road names, landmarks, anything. They pulled into the parking lot of the Flint Hill Fire Department Station at Springfield Parkway and U.S. 21 Business and banged on the door for help. They honked their horn.
“I couldn’t get anybody, and I thought I was gonna be the one delivering my daughter right there in the parking lot,” Saunders said.
Yet on the other side of the building, finishing up paperwork, were deputies Stagner and Haynes, working the overnight shift.
“I was writing up the report when two very upset individuals came driving up very quickly toward my patrol car,” Haynes said. “The guy driving was desperately asking for help, that the young lady next him was going into labor.”
The deputies leaped into action, calling again for an ambulance to get there fast, but not stopping with a radio call.
The deputies held Varn, timing the contractions and telling her that if the baby wanted to come, these officers would take delivery.
In a couple minutes that seemed like hours for a screaming woman and a wreck of a boyfriend – a chef for a living, and a musician – the ambulance arrived and the deputies helped Varn to the ambulance.
None too soon; the baby didn’t wait for any hospital.
“She was born right there in the ambulance,” Varn said. “And she is perfect,” said Saunders.
The efforts of the deputies came just days after a North Charleston police officer was charged with murder for shooting an unarmed fleeing man, and follows other events across the country that have police under a national microscope.
Varn and Saunders praised the dedication of the officers, saying that police in recent weeks have taken understandable grief for a few bad incidents that are really bad but that all officers have been painted with a tainted brush.
“These officers have so much out there to do, to worry about. All I know is they were great,” Saunders said.
“Thank God for these cops who were there for us,” said Varn.
York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant said both patrol offers will receive commendations.
“Police officers – we care about people, and these officers did a great thing that night and helped a miracle, a baby, come into the world,” Bryant said. “Everyone here is proud of them. This is what we do: We serve people, we help them.”
Haynes said what happened at 3 a.m. Thursday is one reason he became a cop.
“I was thinking what I could do to keep her comfortable and keep the gentleman calm,” Haynes said. “Having seen the relief on both of their faces was a very satisfying moment for me.
“There truly is nothing better than feeling like you have done something to make someone’s life a little easier and better. That will always be a great memory for me and a great reminder of why I chose this career and serve my community.”
Morgan Varn said the two officers she just met on a dark night, her water broken and needing a hand, gave four hands.
“They were awesome,” she said.
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065