In his 1,900 rides as a Louisville Lyft driver, passengers have asked Jilson “what’s your most interesting Lyft experience?” more times than he can count. “I didn’t really have an answer that stood out before,” he says. That was until last week, of course, when a couple delivered their baby in the back seat of Jilson’s Chevy Tahoe.
The request came on a snowy, stormy night in Louisville. The passenger, Zachary, called Jilson to tell him this was a very important ride: His girlfriend Leia was pregnant, and they needed to get to the hospital. After Jilson got off the phone, he quickly turned to his fellow Lyft drivers for advice. “I posted in our driver Facebook group that I was on my way to pick up a passenger who was having labor pains,” he said. “And right away I started getting messages of encouragement. Some of their tips were so helpful, like asking if I had a towel or blanket in the car just in case.” Still, Jilson figured the ride would be uneventful. “I thought, what are the chances it happens in my car?”
When Jilson arrived, the couple was calm. Zachary and Jilson even struck up a casual “Kentuckian conversation,” discussing which high schools they’d attended — but that didn't last long. Leia’s pains intensified, and she crawled into the last row of seats to lie down. As Jilson navigated through the snow, Leia started screaming. The baby was coming.
Jilson noticed Zachary was in shock. “I thought to myself, ‘if she starts to have this baby, I have to be the calm one,’” he said. They finally pulled up to the entrance of the hospital and Jilson ran inside to get help. Moments later, she delivered the baby in front of the hospital, in Jilson’s back seat.
The next day, Jilson and a handful of Louisville drivers visited the new family at the hospital to drop off a card and gifts. He’s also set up a GoFundMe page to help Zachary and Leia get much-needed supplies, like diapers, a car seat, and a stroller.
While we might think his actions are heroic, for Jilson, it was normal. “I just try to make every ride a good experience for my passengers. I just try to put myself in the passenger’s shoes.”