SACRAMENTO — The first time Officer Philip Dibene held baby Ezekiel the newborn wasn’t breathing.
His parents tried to make their way to the hospital in Roseville from Stockton Tuesday night as labor began for mother Tiffana Lemaster, but they didn’t make it in time. Ezekiel was born while en route to the hospital, in their car on Interstate 5.
Officer Dibene arrived at the scene just as the baby was born — but they weren’t in the clear just yet.
“I handed him to her and then we realized, she goes, ‘He’s not breathing,'” said Ezekiel’s father, Calvin Thompson. “And so we handed him to the officer. He started to do what was necessary to get the baby to breathe.”
“I turned baby over. Baby was not breathing. Baby wasn’t hardly moving too much,” Dibene explained. “In my mind, I’m praying, ‘God, make this a good outcome for this baby, for this family.'”
The officer, a father of four, said his training from the academy six years ago suddenly kicked into high gear.
“Kinda tap on the baby’s back gently but firmly,” he said. “And after a few moments of that, couldn’t tell you exactly how long, the baby spit out whatever was in its mouth and started to cry and move and flail his little arms.”
“There was so much relief,” Lemaster said. “I feel like we were pretty blessed for them to show up when they did.”
Each one of them considers the whole experience a miracle of faith, putting them all together at the right moment and with the best possible outcome.
“Absolute relief. Felt like a miracle. It felt really good,” Dibene said.
“Fate, we definitely rely on God,” Thompson said. “It couldn’t have worked out any other way.”