TAMPA — Latoya Desamour continued teaching until the contractions became too much.
Though the due date for her fourth child was Sunday, it appeared the baby wasn't going to wait. She drove home to Brandon on Tuesday morning from Summerfield Elementary in Riverview and set up a 12:15 p.m. appointment at St. Joseph's Hospital.
She didn't make it.
At 12:20 p.m., as her husband drove 90 mph on Interstate 4, Desamour gave birth in the front seat of their gray Chrysler Pacifica.
Her loud screams terrified her husband, Wiclef Desamour, 35, who didn't know whether to drive faster or stop.
"Pull over!" she yelled. He did, on the grassy median.
Wiclef spotted a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, who was investigating a traffic crash on I-4 near U.S. 301.
"The baby's here! The baby's here!" the father remembers yelling at the trooper, while wildly waving his arms.
Trooper Dennis Rich jumped over the median rail and pulled on gloves. By that point, the baby girl was letting out healthy cries. The trooper looked over the child, checked her breathing and sat her up on her mother's lap.
He assisted until paramedics arrived and whisked the family to the hospital.
The infant was perfectly healthy. Her name is Arabella.
Though troopers are law enforcement officers, they are trained to be first-responders in medical situations when necessary. Speaking through the agency's spokesman, Rich declined to talk to a reporter Tuesday, saying simply, "I was just doing my job."
Latoya Desamour, 34, and her husband add Arabella to their family, which also includes a 7-year-old daughter, 5-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter.
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.