It must have been a horrific scene when mother of four Iria Wolnick happened upon the fatal crash that killed 19 year old Niser Saldana-Quilantan and nearly claimed the life of Saldana-Quilantan’s husband and baby. Wolnick was honored yesterday with the Director’s Award from the Texas Department of Safety but it wasn’t simply for finding the wreck, it was for what she did upon finding it.
Wolnick was traveling on Highway 77 in remote Kenedy County, Texas — about 200 miles south of San Antonio and 50 miles north of the Mexican border — just after midnight July 5 when she saw the aftermath of SUV that rolled over and caught fire, illuminating the dark sky. All three occupants — a father and pregnant mother, and their 2-year-old daughter — had been thrown out onto a field.
The mother, 19-year-old Niser Saldana-Quilantan, asked Wolnick if her baby was OK, and that was when Wolnick spotted a laceration on the woman’s abdomen, heard a baby’s cries, and saw a head and tiny hand emerging from the wound.
“She kept saying, ‘How’s my baby? How’s my baby?'” Wolnick said. “My reaction was to spring into action and do what I could.”
Despite never having delivered a baby before, she did what she could and delivered a healthy 6 pound 11 ounce baby girl, successfully tying off the umbilical cord with a shoelace from a passing trucker. Sadly, the mother later died at the hospital but the baby and her father both lived, having suffered non-life threatening injuries only.
Wolnick had actually been on the way to her own Mother’s funeral the day she came upon the accident. Regarding the bizarre timing of the event, “I was given the opportunity to bring life into the world in those conditions,” she said. “It’s not something that happens every day.”