Hero of the Week – Deputy helps deliver baby at car wash

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Deputy Roger Bertola, right, delivered Mariela's baby at a Santa Clarita Valley car wash on Sept. 8, 2015. (Credit: Chris Pace/KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – A surprised Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy helped a distressed woman in labor deliver her baby girl in the parking lot of a Santa Clarita Valley car wash on Wednesday morning, authorities said.

Deputy Roger Bertola was initially flagged down by a motorist who urgently yelled “Baby! Baby!” at him, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Department.

He then began following the motorist’s car. The vehicles then pulled into the parking lot of a Canyon Country car wash located on Soledad Canyon Road, where Bertola discovered that a pregnant woman was about to give birth, the release stated.

After hearing the father-to-be say, “She is having her baby now,” Bertola used a radio to call L.A. County firefighters. He then assured the couple that the paramedics were on their way.

“At first, I was trying to help the mother get comfortable but she made it very clear she didn’t want me to recline the front seat, and I certainly wasn’t about to debate anything with her,” he said in the release.

But the baby couldn’t wait that long, and — as she began to crown — the deputy realized he would have to deliver her himself.

“I told them that I had to push, and he was like, ‘Just try to hold it.’ So I did, but then, I couldn’t hold it anymore,” said the mother, who identified herself only as Mariela.

“And sure enough, there it was. And the baby was coming out, it was crowning. So I helped guide the baby on and deliver it,” Bertola told KTLA.

He then gently tapped the newborn’s back to help clear her airway. Then, the baby took her first breath and began crying at approximately 7:17 a.m., according to the release.

“The parents were so excited and happy. The father was jumping up and down and overjoyed,” Bertola said in the release.

The deputy, a father of three, had never helped deliver an infant before, according to the release.

The couple had less warning of their child’s impending arrival because it was an “en-caul” birth, meaning the pregnant woman’s water did not break, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Firefighters, paramedics and an ambulance arrived a short time after the baby’s birth.

Mother and baby were immediately transported to a local hospital, where they were both reported to be in good condition, according to the release.

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