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A stranger drove a National Guard sergeant 8 hours so he could make it home for his son's birth

INSIDER logoINSIDER 8/14/2019 Kelly McLaughlin

a man and woman taking a selfie in a car posing for the camera © Courtesy of Seth Craven A National Guard sergeant credits a stranger for helping him make it to his son's birth after his flight from Philadelphia to West Virginia was canceled due to bad weather.

Sgt. Seth Craven, 26, had flown to Philadelphia from Afghanistan on August 5 in preparation for his wife Julie's scheduled cesarean section on August 9 in Charleston, West Virginia, Craven told INSIDER. 

He intended to catch a connecting flight to West Virginia on August 7, but his flight was canceled. He rescheduled his trip so that he would fly out the next day, August 8, but that flight was canceled, too.

Craven said that all the car rental places were sold out due to the storm, leaving him stranded.

Just when he thought he was out of luck, Craven was approached by Charlene Vickers, a programs director for AmeriHealth Caritas Partnership, who was at the airport and offered to help according to WV Metro News. Vickers and her colleagues were headed to Charleston for an event on Friday and she had an extra seat in her car.

"I'm getting to West Virginia tonight, come hell or high water. So are you willing to join this crazy party of ours?" she recalled telling Craven, according to WV Metro News.

Vickers and Craven had never met before that night.

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Vickers, who's from Philadelphia, had parked her car at the airport. Craven took her up on the offer without even getting his suitcase from baggage claim. He also helped guide Vickers all eight hours down to Charleston.

"I was glad to have somebody who knew the roads," Vickers told WV Metro News. "There's a lot of areas where you do not have cell phone service. I have lost my GPS signal many times in West Virginia."

Craven told INSIDER that the long drive in the crowded car was pretty pleasant.

"Along the way, we got to know each other pretty well, talked about my time in Afghanistan, and her family, and my soon-to-be family," he said. "We even called her dad who is veteran and spoke with him."

The group arrived just past midnight on Friday, and Craven and Julie had to be at the hospital by 5:30 a.m.

Craven's baby boy was born later Friday morning. He and Julie named the 9-pound, 8-ounce baby boy Cooper.

"Luckily we had a healthy little boy, and mom's healthy. If it wasn't for Charlene I never would have made it," Craven told WV Metro News. "All she wanted in return was pictures of the baby."

Craven said Vickers also sent his family a gift basket and flowers in celebration of their new baby.

Craven is now on emergency leave from the National Guard until August 20. Depending on Julie's recovery, he could be on leave for longer.

"We are doing great now," he told INSIDER. "Cooper is chunky and healthy and mama is sore but she's recovering, and we're taking advantage of all the time we can together before I leave to go back to Afghanistan."



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