For Paula James, Tuesday marked a career first.
“I’ve been driving buses for over 30 years, and trolley for about two,” James said inside Interurban Trolley No. 482, parked curbside in downtown Goshen.
According to James, Tuesday morning was the first time anyone had given birth in one of her vehicles.
James said she picked up a woman in Elkhart who was en route to Goshen.
“The lady was in labor and she wanted to go to the hospital,” James recalled. “Her (water) broke and she delivered a baby right here.”
Oh wow, a news reporter commented.
“That’s what I said,” James recalled with a laugh.
Around 10 a.m., James pulled the trolley over just west of the intersection of Main Street and Lincoln Avenue and called 911. Then came a quick delivery.
“It just came out,” James said of the infant.
Mother and baby were transported to IU Health Goshen Hospital by city EMTs.
No ordinary trip
The mother-in-transit Tuesday morning was Skylla Hurt of Elkhart, who gave birth to a daughter she named Autumn Dawn. The baby weighed 5 pounds, 3 ounces and was 18 inches long.
Hurt was accompanied on her trolley trip by 4-year-old daughter Bonnie.
Hurt is a client in a transitional housing program as part Elkhart’s Individuals and Families in Transition effort.
“I was talking to her on the phone around 7:15 (Tuesday) morning and she was requesting some trolley tokens,” said Jen Doty, director of IFIT’s transitional housing for homeless families. “She was doing fine.”
Traveling to Goshen is nothing new for Hurt; Doty said she usually eats at The Window every day. Tuesday was a little different.
“I got a call from her on the trolley saying the contractions were getting pretty bad,” Doty said. Hurt decided to skip The Window and head directly to the hospital.
“And just didn’t make it in time,” Doty said.
Doty said the intent behind the IFIT housing program is to get families on their feet and be able to live self-sufficiently. Hurt has been in the program a couple of months.
Hurt has a goal of going on to college, according to Doty, who describes the client as being very matter-of-fact, pleasant and a loving parent. She’s also loving and kind to the other clients.
“There’s not one negative thing I can say about Skylla,” Doty said.
While Hurt was resting in her hospital room mid-afternoon, she said, “I’m really glad,” about Autumn being born and, “I didn’t expect all the attention.”
For Paula James, Tuesday marked a career first.
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