Peter Holland of Waterdown

Trucker Peter Holland from Waterdown drives for Challenger Motor Freight of Cambridge. He's being recognized by the Truckload Carriers Association for helping to deliver a baby at a Denny's in Arkansas. (Truckload Carriers Association)

A Hamilton-area truck driver is being heralded as a hero and has been presented with a "Highway Angels"  award after delivering a baby and helping to save his life at a Denny’s in Arkansas.

The Truckload Carriers Association announced the honour last week, for the incident which started just after 5 a.m. on Nov. 30, 2013, at a Denny’s diner in Texarkana, Arkansas. Trucker Peter Holland of Waterdown had just finished washing up and was getting coffee when a pregnant woman and her sister walked in.

According to the Association's press release, the woman was two weeks past her due date and had suddenly gone into labour while visiting her family for Thanksgiving. She was on her way to the hospital, but had stopped at the Denny’s to pick up her mother, who worked there.

But the woman’s mother had already left for the hospital, and it became quickly apparent the woman wouldn’t make it to the hospital before her baby was born.

Trucker Fredrick Robatcek of Sauk Rapids, Minnesota called 911 and started relaying information back and forth while Holland helped deliver the child. According to the news release, at one point Holland “pushed the baby back inside enough to manipulate the umbilical cord so he could breathe.”

Once the 10 pound, four ounce baby boy was delivered, the two men helped to clean him off, cover the new mother with towels and give her water. Paramedics handled the actual cutting of the cord when they arrived.

Holland says the baby took a big gasp after he was born and then grabbed the trucker’s little finger. “It wasn’t until I got back in my truck and was headed toward Mexico that I realized… I just helped someone through a very difficult situation and delivered a healthy baby boy,” he said. “And all before breakfast.”

The woman and her family told a local newspaper they were immensely grateful for Robatcek and Holland’s help. “Thanks for being there, and not leaving one minute before or one minute after,” she said. “Thank you for saving my baby’s life.”

Robatcek says he was humbled by the entire experience. “It happened so fast … there was no possible way an ambulance could have gotten there in time,” he said.

For their quick thinking and willingness to help, Holland and Robatcek have been crowned “Highway Angels” — a program created by the Truckload Carriers Association to recognize truck drivers who show unusual kindness, courtesy, and courage on the road.

Since the program’s inception in August 1997, hundreds of drivers have been recognized as Highway Angels for their work on the road.