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Woman hit by tow truck gives birth to 'miracle' baby

Jenny Quiles was struck by a tow truck while walking across First Avenue North on Oct. 15, police said. 

Cell phone photo show the moments after Jenny Quiles opened her eyes to her husband Angel. 

photo |
Published Oct. 31, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — It was Wednesday afternoon and the exhausted dad-to-be had gone home to rest and recharge. Angel Quiles thought about his pregnant wife and the two weeks she had lain unconscious but fighting. He thought about the Oct. 15 accident that got her there, when a tow truck slammed into Jenny Noemi Quiles as she walked to a doctor's appointment for their baby.

He thought about the relief he felt when she finally woke up and how, for now, their little girl was safe in his wife's womb.

Then he got the call: Angel Noemi Quiles — mom and dad had already chosen a name — was on the way. A month early.

Angel Quiles, 35, rushed from the couple's home in Tampa to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, where his wife was hospitalized.

He pleaded with the doctors to postpone the delivery until his arrival. When the C-section succeeded, everyone in the delivery room cheered and he saw his healthy, 6-pound baby girl, Quiles couldn't help but think: "Out of all the negativity, finally something positive."

Now, Quiles said, he'll turn his attention back to his wife, who remains in critical condition.

Jenny Quiles, 36, suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was hit while crossing First Avenue N near Williams Park. Just before the impact, she reportedly turned her body to shield her womb.

"When Jenny gets out of this," her husband said, "I'm going to thank her."

He said that just days before his wife gave birth to what her doctor called a miracle baby, she rustled awake at the sound of his voice. Jenny reached for him, he said, and pulled him close as if she was trying to tell him something. Angel believes his wife was trying to say the baby was on her way, because just days later, Jenny went into labor.

Her contractions started about 4 p.m. Wednesday, said her doctor, Jennifer R. Gilby, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Women's Care Florida. Gilby said the decision was made to deliver the baby by C-section after consultation with Quiles' doctors at Bayfront.

Quiles gave birth about four hours later.

The baby, Gilby said, "is just thriving and doing well. She's on an excellent first step into this world, and I think she's going to do great."

Angel Noemi Quiles' due date was Dec. 1. She was being cared for Thursday in the neonatal intensive care unit at All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Gilby said she has been Quiles' doctor for years, dating to when Quiles' 12-year-old son was born.

She said Quiles was in stable condition, with her eyes open and responding to stimuli.

"She's improving every day," Gilby said. "I think now that she doesn't have to support a whole second entity, hopefully we'll see some improvements, as well. … In the last 48 hours, she's really become a lot more responsive than she was."

According to St. Petersburg police, Shaun Carlton Downing, 27, of St. Petersburg was turning left onto First Avenue N on a yellow light when the accident occurred. The right front corner of his 2011 Dodge tow truck, owned by A-1 Towing, struck Quiles and threw her to the pavement.

Police spokesman Mike Puetz said a preliminary investigation shows that, while Downing was likely at fault in the crash, he may just receive a civil infraction. He was not apparently drunk or speeding, and he had a valid license.

"There's nothing here that rises to a criminal act on his part," Puetz said.

Angel Quiles said he hopes the attention that his wife's accident is receiving will raise awareness about pedestrian safety.

He said his wife works for Interstate Transport, a logistics and freight-shipping company in St. Petersburg. She loves baseball and enjoys exercising. And she wanted a baby girl more than anything, said Angel, a lawn-maintenance company supervisor.

The accident and early delivery mean the family is less than prepared to take home a newborn, Angel said. Gilby and the couple's church are hosting two separate baby showers for them in November, because they did not get to have one before the child arrived.

On Thursday, Angel said he wanted to get the baby, who they'll call Emi, in the arms of her mother as soon as possible. Jenny had not yet held her little girl.

Later in the evening, he got to feed the child her first bottle and change her diaper.

"I want my wife to be normal because she wanted this so bad," he said. "I want Jenny to see the baby. Hopefully, that will snap her out of this. I need her back in my life.

"My hope is to see Jenny hold her baby girl and do what moms do best."

Times researcher Caryn Baird and staff writer Zachary T. Sampson contributed to this report.


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