Harrowing race to hospital falls short

LONG LAKE -Like so many generations before them, Sherri Cook and Sam Keller raced to the hospital to find a suitable place to birth their fourth child.

"She started having contractions at around 6 p.m.," Keller said Friday. "We called the hospital and they told us to get down there immediately."

It was Feb. 28 and the baby was nearly a week ahead of schedule.

Cook said she knew that the infant would be born well short of Glens Falls Hospital.

After a white-knuckle trip to Indian Lake, the couple decided it was time to call an ambulance prompting Keller to jerk the wheel right- into the Stewart's Shop parking lot in downtown Indian Lake.

There, employees contacted the Indian Lake Emergency Squad.

"I knew it was going to be something else when I heard imminent delivery over the radio," said Indian Lake emergency responder and retired registered nurse Elizabeth Stewart, "Regardless it was going to happen."

A 'jack of all trades,' Stewart is also the pastor of the United Methodist Church in Indian Lake.

The four-person EMS crew-consisting of critical care technicians Elizabeth Stewart, her husband Bill , Richard Leonard and ambulance driver Jim Short-began the doomed race to the hospital.

"We got a few miles up the road and her water broke," Keller said, "and everyone kind of jumped back."

Crowning mere minutes later, the healthy baby boy soon took his first breath.

Officially, Kaleb Ethen Keller was born just after 8 p.m. in the back of that Indian Lake ambulance on Route 28 racing south past Tri-county nursing home.

"I felt pretty confident," Stewart said. "It was, after all, the second baby I had delivered."

Cook said that everyone was just pleased that the he was healthy.

"I certainly wouldn't want to do it that way again," Cook said. "But the EMS was incredible."

For her part, Stewart was pleased with her handy-work.

"She was absolutely beaming," Bill said. "She told us to clean up the mess."

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