SJ woman honored for saving unborn baby's life after car wreck

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Nearly one year ago, a San Jose woman was in Texas on her way to her mother's funeral. But even as she was dealing with the loss of a loved one, she saved the life of another.

Iria Wolnick, 36, was traveling in Kenedy County, the fourth least populated county in the country. So if she hadn't been there, odds are the situation would have been much worse.

On Wednesday, two Texas lawmen came to the Bay Area to honor her. It's another example of a star where you live.

Iria has a warm smile when she meets a stranger. But on this day, she's being recognized for helping to save an unborn baby's life.

The San Jose resident was traveling along U.S. 77 in South Texas last July to attend her mother's funeral. She witnessed an SUV spin out and land on its side, ejecting three people. That's when instinct kicked in.

"You either make the decision to help or not help," she said. "There's no one else on the road but us. So we stopped and assisted the people in there. And I guess having had four kids, that helps you a little bit."

Being a mom, she saw something that alarmed her -- an unborn baby's head and arm were visible through a laceration on one of the accident victims.

"She wanted to make sure that her baby was fine," Iria said. "She even gave me the name of the baby."

So Iria delivered that baby along the side of a desolate highway. Trooper Benji Ramirez responded from 50 miles away.

"I would say it goes for 30 miles without any houses," he said. "So for EMS to arrive on scene it took them a good, I would say, 40 minutes to get on scene."

The 6 pound 11 ounce girl was saved. However, the mother died later at the hospital.

A first responder is glad she knew what to do.

"I would be very grateful to those people," said Raymondville Fire Chief Oscar Gutierrez. "That young lady that was adjacent to mom, holding the baby, comforting the baby, until we got there."

Two Texas lawmen flew to San Jose to honor Iria, who works as a massage therapist.

"Without Ms. Wolnick's actions that morning, both lives would have been lost," said Lt. Jeremy Rowland. "So today, on behalf of the Texas Department of Public Safety, we want to recognize Ms. Wolnick with the Director's Award."

The Director's Award recognizes meritorious conduct by a citizen about five times a year.

"I feel honored and privileged," Iria said. "That whether it was God or instinct, whatever you want to call it, that I was there, and I was able to assist the mom."

No one knows better than her daughter what a remarkable mom she has.

"My mom can do anything," said her daughter, Aline Wolnick. "So I'm happy that she was there and happy that that baby got to live."
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