Editor’s Note: Sacramento CBS13 ran “Caltrans Worker Helps Clear Slide for Newborn, Parents” about the heroic actions of Caltrans Pulga Maintenance Station Equipment Operator John Barton on Feb. 17 and granted CT News permission to rerun the story.
By Macy Jenkins
QUINCY (CBS13) – A Plumas County family has reached out to Caltrans to say thank you after a scary incident on Highway 70 back in December.
Cheyenne and Kyle Bakker battled winter weather to get their newborn from Quincy to Sacramento. Now they say they couldn’t have done it without the help of one kind Caltrans employee.
“Honestly, just thank you!” Kyle Bakker said.
Cheyenne and Kyle knew something was wrong with their son Casey. Less than 24 hours old, he couldn’t stay at their regional hospital in Plumas. He needed to be transported to the University of California, Davis, Children’s Hospital, but the family lives three hours away and no helicopter could fly there in the storm.
Then, 45 minutes into their journey, they ran into a rockslide on Highway 70.
“Panic, sheer panic,” Cheyenne said she felt in that moment.
“I came around the corner and it was pouring down rain,” Kyle said. “And there was rocks all the way across the highway.”
They hit a rock and a got a flat tire on Highway 70. Their son Casey was (being transported) behind them in a neonatal ambulance. Casey's parents called UC Davis because they suspected their son had swallowed some amniotic fluid during his birth.
“Had the rocks not been cleared and the ambulance had not tried to swerve to miss rocks, they would have very easily gone into the Feather River,” Cheyenne explained.
Stranded in the dark with no cell service, the couple spotted a Caltrans car.
“We flagged him down because no cars would stop for us at 3:30 in the morning,” Kyle said.
They told Caltrans employee John Barton the whole story.
“When they told me the situation I was like ‘Oh wow, really?’ ” Barton said. “We don’t run across stuff like that.”
He began clearing the road, allowing the ambulance to catch up. Still feeling sick after child birth, Cheyenne got into the ambulance and Barton helped Kyle get a ride to the hospital.
“He took a lot of stress off of me by giving me the ride that he did,” Kyle said. “I told Cheyenne, ‘I really would like to thank this guy.’”
But Barton told CBS13, he was just doing his job.
“We have a lot of rock slides,” he said. “That’s what we do up there! I’m glad I could help. Especially in a situation like that.”
Now the parents say they’re finally settling into home life with Casey and his older brother, Shane. And they don’t know if they’d be here without Barton.
“Just so thankful that he was able to help us when we were in such a need,” Cheyenne said.
The family spent about a week at UC Davis and returned home just days before Christmas. Casey is happy and healthy and celebrated two months in the world on Feb. 16.