CONTINUING COVERAGE: FLOODS OF 2016

Father Pulled Over Driving Laboring Wife to Hospital Ticketed

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CALHOUN COUNTY, Iowa – There’s an update to a story that went viral last week out of Calhoun County.

A father who was pulled over and held at gunpoint has been ticketed for speeding his laboring wife to the hospital.

Last Tuesday, Ben Kohnen was taking orders from his wife, despite seeing the emergency lights in his rear view mirror.

His wife, Rachel, was in labor and thought she wasn't going to make to the hospital in time to have her baby.

Ben was going 30mph over the speed limit and that caught the attention of police.

“He starts following me and he turns on his lights and my wife says ‘we can’t pull over, the baby is coming now,’” Ben told Channel 13.

“I did tell him not to stop,” Rachel added.

Ben listened to his wife and refused to stop when officers tried to pull him over, so police ended up using stop-sticks to blow out the tires on their SUV bringing the couple to a stop on the outskirts of Fort Dodge.

The Kohnens say they were ordered to the ground and held at gunpoint until police realized it was an emergency.

The couple says they tried to call 911, but the dispatcher probably couldn’t understand Rachel in between her contractions.

The story went viral with national and international media outlets covering it.

However, that's not where it ends. The Calhoun County attorney is issuing two citations: a speeding ticket for going 86 in a 55 miles-per-hour zone and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

"Those are the two tickets that I'm facing and both are true," he admits.

Ben tells us this could put his CDL license at risk, which he uses for his job.

"Do I have a little sympathy for the guy? Yes I do," said Manson Police Chief Tom Ritts.

Ritts says the couple should have stopped for his officer and called 911 before leaving the house.

"If he had just pulled over for about 45 seconds, my officer would have realized what was going on. He would have said, 'OK get back on the road. I'll follow you," explained Ritts.

Kohnen met with the Calhoun County Attorney this afternoon. He is hoping for "the best possible outcome."

The couple says baby Hazel is home and doing fine.

53 comments

  • leobrammer

    Week that process that all county attorneys are evil & are just out to get the hard working man. I’m betting this county is in need of $ so any means possible to get it. Cold heartless Attorney!! Welcome back to Hazard County!!!!

  • Mixed Feelings

    I have mixed feelings about this. As unfortunate as this is for the couple, laws are in place and they should be followed. However, they had made an attempt to contact the dispatcher to explain the situation. As the police officer said, call ahead for help rather than calling as you are being followed by the police. Most times, though, they will tell you to wait until help arrives. EMTs do have the equipment necessary to deliver a baby in their vehicles so they would have been in capable hands.

    • justin paulsen

      I totally agree. I’m not unsympathetic but the couple didn’t handle the situation responsibly and there are consequences for breaking the law.

      • Brandon B

        yes because if you were in his situation rushing your pregnant wife in labor to the hospital im sure your first thought would anything other than getting her there. BTW if you read the article they did attempt to call 911 but with her in labor and him driving it was hard for them to understand her. You can only do so much in a situation and with a child on the way …. so you should really think before you open your mouth

  • Troy V

    If he has a CDL, he knew a long time ago that speeding could affect his CDL status.

    Was it too difficult to call 911 when they left the house (or before they blew through a DIFFERENT town than the one they live in??

    They may not want to face reality, but the reality is that they went through a town that has a hospital (Humboldt) to get to another town with a different hospital. If the baby was coming that fast, wouldn’t most people stop at the first hospital available??

    • Kim Pearce Adams

      fyi HWY 7 does not go through Humboldt. They were traveling from Pomeroy through Manson to Fort Dodge.

      • Dustin Shadle

        I am from Humboldt, and believe me, I wouldn’t let that hospital deliver a pizza let alone a baby. and since they didn’t take a route that put them there, it shows how many didn’t read the whole article. my question is, did he have his hazards on? I don’t know… calling 911 was all they could really try, she had both hands free and he need to have both at the wheel. in 2000 I had a friend overdose, it was near the same area, and I hit 130mph getting her and my friends who were helping keep her awake, to the hospital. we met a patrolman along the way who gave chase. we got to the fort dodge hospital, the patrolman caught up and told me more cars would be arriving. nobody had cell phones then, not being young and broke, but we made sure my friend got into the ER and stood against my car as other officers came up. I was asked why we didn’t call 911, we told them there was no way, and that we were just hoping she would make it. half of us were tearing up. it was supposed to be a fun night, not a life saving night. the trooper chewed my butt up one side and down the other as he checked my license and registration. I submitted to a breathalyzer and came up clean. he told me to park the car and go be with my friend. that was it. I wasn’t risking my license as an income line, but I could have lost it. with any luck the judge will see that they were reasonable and that the guy shouldn’t be punished for doing what he had to do. especially since the orders came from the wife directly lol. the sad part is that the dot could still decide to yank his license even if the judge clears him.

  • Blaster06

    What a joke. After he loses his job for not having a cdl maybe they can get on welfare and live an easier life.

  • Sue

    yep, tough call. if it is true that they passed one hospital for another, but, she thought the baby was that close to coming, that is a concern. Heck, an urgent care clinic, if open, would have been better then the back of their car.
    Luckily though, the SUV didn’t roll when it hit the stop sticks, killing all in the car, including the baby.
    Just a bad situation all the way around.
    I know my sister’s baby had to be rushed to the hospital once (after she was born of course). Turned out she had meningitis. We left a note for my brother in law. He sped to the hospital (we just left a note that the baby was unresponsive….ambulance to ER). A police man started following him with lights/sirens. he went on to the hospital, policeman followed him in. No violence. I’m sure the officer assumed there was some sort of emergency when he saw where my brother in law was going. Officer stayed with BIL til he found out what was going on, told him hoped the baby was ok, and left. Very kind, reasonable officer.

    • Patricia Ballas

      Sue they did not go through any other towns with hospitals. Up here there are no urgent care clinics. Humboldt for the record would have had them going to fortdodge and back tracking. If they had been in Humboldt I’m sure she would have called an ambulance. But since they were going through Manson on why 7 pull out a map you will see he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.. Yes they broke the law by not pulling over and by speeding, but our law enforcement breaks it everyday by speeding because they too are covered by that law and no where NO WHERE DOES IT SAY it is EVER ok for them to exceed the posted speed limits. They are to follow the posted limits but they don’t. Hard lesson to learn when you have a new baby that yes the rural area you love is definitely May not be the county you want to live in.

  • Mike (@Biffpudwell)

    This county attorney is just another example of the POS government employees who bleed the tax dollars as payroll of honest hard working people. He should be removed from office. Everyone thank Calhoun County for being the “Alabama” of the Iowa counties. Glad I moved away from Iowa.

  • Stephanie

    Unfortunately I don’t feel bad for them. If it was that extreme of a time crunch the husband should of been on the phone trying to let whoever know what was going on or requesting a paramedic for his wife if her labor was that far along. It was a judgment call made by the two of them which I don’t fault them for but you have to be prepared for the consequences. Otherwise you’re going to have everyone coming up with valid excuses for breaking the law.

  • Ruth trecker

    I thought he was an idiot before I knew he had a CDL, now I really think he is an idiot. A professional driver would know better than to risk the life of his wife and child by driving recklessly . He deserves what he gets

  • Julie Coleman

    But apparently it’s still ok for the Governor’s driver to go 30 mph over the speed limit as he has really important events to attend,
    /snark
    Seriously, we need a lot more details from WHOtv before passing judgement either way. No, wait,we don’t. We need to have compassion and understanding. Babies come and people panic. The police did their jobs. In issuing the tickets the Calhoon county attorney is being a jerk, but I’m certain he will point out he was well within his right to do so.

  • Brutally Honest

    This exact thing happened to me, however the cop was nice enough to not give me a ticket. Got pulled over 110 in a 55 taking wife to hospital. Water had already broken while at home and had an hours drive to get to the hospital. In my case, i did go ahead and pull over and quickly waived the offer up to my car so i could explain what is going on. I was not issued any tickets as the officer understood the urgency. He did however make us wait there, nearly 10-15 minutes before an ambulace arrived at the scene to take her on to the hospital. Just a note, with our first child, her water broke at home and the child was cresting within 10 minutes of her water breaking, needless to say that baby was born at home on the living room couch within 2 minutes of first responders showing up. I didnt want to go through that again.

  • Mike Davis

    If you have ever tried to call 911 you might be surprised by the length of time it takes to get thru. You might get a regional emergency center who transfers he call to a county dispatch who forwards it a city dispatch, that doesn’t provide ambulance service for your location but will transfer you to ambulance service that covers the township you are at…
    I would also consider a CDL holder would be a professional driver more trained and experienced with the hazards of intersections, factory or public driveway entrances etc. hope he gets a consideration. Congrats on the baby.

    • CommonSense

      Totally necessary to use stop sticks on an SUV that is going that fast./sarcasm Speeding is a victimless crime and all that using stop sticks did was damage property and put lives at risk. I’d personally like to see the officers(more like Barney Fifes)involved charged with negligence and damage to property. We’ve got to make them use common sense and think about the possible outcome before they react. Its not like they couldn’t follow him or didn’t have his plate number to send a ticket in the mail.

  • RJ

    In this situation, 4 blown tires ought to be enough punishment for this offence. It would seem to me the county attorney is over reacting a bit. Signed me another CDL driver…

  • Sue

    I think they should have called 911 and had an ambulance take her to the hospital. They said that the wife called 911, once they were on the way, and the dispatcher was having problems understanding her. Things can, and do, go wrong during child birth. In an ambulance, the paramedics are trained to handle these things. What if the wife would have started hemorrhaging? Now they are stopped along the road, the husband is trying to save his wife and baby, and trying to call 911 and tell them where they are.

  • Jake Moretti

    Wow!!! Money Money Money, That’s all this joke of a state thinks about” Getting pretty old………..

  • Brandon B

    the only joke about this is that once the officer realized the situation he didnt help further and still went as far as to ticket them. Most non corrupt cops will have a thing called empathy and realize the reasons for a situation. Really hope this guy goes to court and fights this. Any reasonable judge would throw those tickets out.

  • Fern

    Having driven an ambulance and having been in a car with my Dad having an appendicitis….. when it is time to go to the hospital, MOST people do panic,
    at least somewhat and try to get to the hospital asap. Waiting for an ambulance may not be the best way, especially it it is a ways off. With the ambulance, it was usually a baby that caused us to punch it up. There are complications that need to be dealt with in a hospital. A burst appendix will put you down for the big nap. When I was little, Dad got an attack and we all piled, well…, Dad crawled, into the car and Mom took off for the hospital. A cop stopped us and Mom waved him aside us and explained. He said to follow him with his lights on. He drove the speed limit and allowed her to crawl through a few red lights before Mom had enough. She passed him at an intersection, took off with him in pursuit again, and we made it the hospital just in time, according to the operation room doc. There weren’t as many burst appendix miracle procedures back then. The cop was steamed when he caught up to us in the hospital but later cooled off when he found out how close it had been, wished us good night, and left. I’d take the tickets, and get Mom to the hospital, NOW. Let’s see, tickets or possible birth complications. Not much of a choice, eh? Then, I’d roast the gov’t clowns, that wanna get into the news, in a courtroom, in front of jury and the wire services. Lots of high profile lawyers would take this one as an easy win for their win record and free face time.

  • tricia

    This is total BS, our justice system is BS everywhere! Take care of what’s important, abused children, neglected children, assults, etc, the appropriate list goes on!!! Have some consideration for these people.

  • do ur job

    It wasnt their first kid and if they were so worried about a fast delivery then make a plan before-schedule a c-section. Did they call the service? Because they should have called 911 too. May the child have more common sense than both of the parents put together and much less entitlement.

  • ex driver

    The Calhoun county officers & attorney are a bounce of nerds. You can darn well bit ya if that was them having a child when they were on the road it would be the same thing. Then making them lie down on the road at gun point, HOW STUPID CAN THEY BE when you can see the lady was having a baby!!!!!

  • Kate

    Sorry, but it’s just stupid not to pull over for lights-whatever the reason. These people are too stupid to have kids. They put their unborn child at risk. DOH!

  • Kim

    She was in labor and “they” were ordered to the ground held at gunpoint. You really think that if he would have stopped for “45 seconds” that they would have been released so easily? Doubtful.

    • Sue

      If you cannot afford a child, don’t have one. Health care is part of raising a child. ‘I can’t afford to do the safe thing for my child, so, I will put every one else on the road, including my family, at risk’.

  • iambatwomanyo

    I still thinks they should be let off. Not everyone can afford an ambulance ride, especially that far out Mr. big bad police chief Tom Ritts. We can’t all have money to afford everything. I guess no one ever thinks about that part!

  • Paul

    Stop sticks…ordered to the ground…that’s what happens when cops watch Cops. Severe over reaction in my eyes by both the cop and the county attorney, get rid of them both.

  • deb

    Should drop charges… Don’t look good for the lawyer or cops…. They act like there god… Come on she was on the phone with 911 already…

  • Murdock

    How quickly we forget that Gov Brandstad got caught speeding at 85 mph in the middle of the day on a busy road…and got a free pass. Oh,and I believe the trooper got fire!

    • Enoughwithwarson

      Wasn’t the trooper that got fired. It was an investigative officer that got fired after the fact on trumped up conduct issues for reporting what happened. The state trooper driving the governor’s vehicle eventually apologized and paid off the ticket himself. My question is why Gov. Branstead didn’t ask the driver to slow down. He had to know the guy was speeding as he was passing everyone else up. Seems to me the governor thinks he’s become entitled to special treatment. That’s a Bad Thing in a public servant.

  • Enoughwithwarson

    Justice without mercy is tyranny. That officer was right to try to pull them over. But that doesn’t mean the DA or Judge has no leeway in prosecution or judging extenuating circumstances. If they don’t show mercy to a couple literally in distress at the time of the attempted stop they need to be tossed out of office!

    • marcopolish

      Maybe. But they clearly put others in danger driving that way, no matter the excuse. And as someone else said, four kids when you can’t afford them, and letting things go so late that they virtually then had no choice but to break the law is NOT responsible choice, and the example showing others that it is somehow OK to go 84 mph in ANY zone is the wrong example. So on that score I would support the ticket, there is no reason he really had to go that fast. Police do not know who is on board, whether there are criminals or some other great danger, all they have to go by is that they are speeding, not responding to lawful authority requiring stop so that the officer can perceive the situation. They have every right to assume a criminal or other risk to public safety, and that was a decision the guy made. A decision. Well, he should be responsible for the decision and the example given if he gets to take all that away from the authorities on his own. Plenty of examples of harm occurred. The police/sheriff can only play the odds and make a judgment call. So to for a judge. County attorney, on the other hand, typically I have found to be more corrupt than judges.

  • Sue

    Ok, KCCI blogger says this is their 4th baby. the photo of the mother and baby has a preschooler in it. so….unless their oldest is old enough to stay with the other children, they had time to plan for SOMEONE to watch the other kids while she went to the hospital to have this one. yet, they didn’t have time to drive to the hospital legally, or to call an ambulance. I have never had a problem calling 911, even from a cell phone. the 2 times we’ve had to call an ambulance, they arrived quickly and were amazing. I would much rather have a paramedic deliver my baby in the back of an ambulance then my husband deliver my baby in the back of our car.

    • Kathryn Patterson

      My gosh, you just don’t get it, do you? They didn’t start having trouble until they were on the way there. If they would have called an ambulance to take her, and they weren’t in dire straights when they took off, the ambulance ride would not have been rated “emergency”,and there would be a good chance they would have a several hundred dollar bill from them. I am considering this, because 6 1/2 years ago my husband went to the cancer center for some lab work, and his blood pressure got really low. He called me at work, and said they weren’t letting him leave. When I got there the nurse asked what the hill took me so long as they were waiting for me, to call an ambulance. I asked if I could take him the 4 blocks from there to Mercy Medical Center in my minivan, and she said, “No! Do you want him to die in your car?” So they called Siouxland Paramedics. That was on a Wednesday. He died in the hospital on Sunday. I got the ambulance bill, and the insurance company paid nothing, as they considered SP an out of network provider, even though they are the only ones in town, and the only way they would pay for an ambulance in our city was if it was determined to be listed as an “emergency”, which the EMT failed to do. When we found this out, the insurance lady at the Cancer Center tried to get the ins. to pay, but they told us the above. We called SP, and they said they weren’t about to change the records of a run that happened a couple weeks prior. It cost me $600 for them to take my husband 4 blocks when the Cancer Center thought it was too much of an emergency for me to take him. I wonder what it would have cost those folks to go the distance they had to travel, since it wasn’t an emergency when they left home!

      • marcopolish

        Kathryn: Thank you for bringing this up, it is a serious matter and not a casual lay remark to know to “declare an emergency.” I for one didn’t know of the significance and will try to remember it. Certainly if the hospital thought it was too dangerous to transport yourself, then the EMT service should be told up front that the hospital says it is an emergency and if they want to get paid, they need to follow the higher qualified people’s lead, otherwise they can turn their bus around and either be criticized for abandoning in an emergency or make the proper call of emergency. Lately stories about ex convicts and abuse registry individuals being employed as EMTs suggests to not have a hollywood idea of their expertise and judgment, don’t just leave it to them!!!

  • Gib Pleh

    30 mph OVER, and ignoring the police lights? He’s an idiot for endangering their lives and the lives of the other motorists out there. That baby was going to be born whenever and wherever, and be fine. This idiot doesn’t have the brains enough to be a good dad. And yes the governor’s driver got ticket and paid it. The first trooper who let them go is an idiot for letting them go.

    • John Long

      The difference is that previous Children born had difficulties…I would have been in a hurry also…But I posted a comment on how I handled a similar situation…He should have pulled over and declared an emergency…less than a minute delay, and would now be ok with at least one less ticket…

  • John Long

    I had a similar situation…I was speeding my wife to the ER with what we thought was a heart attack, But the difference is I pulled over…jumped out of my car with hands in the air…and yelled that I had a heart attack victim in the car…The Officer immediately yelled back, Follow me…and took off at high speeds and got us to the Hospital….Lights flashing and siren wailing….
    He should have stopped and done the same thing…
    PS my wife is fine,

  • MaeAu

    My second born was in a hurry to enter this world. I live in Humboldt county and will NOT have a baby there. We sped and made it to Webster City. A nurse parked our truck because that’s how quick labor went. An emt stayed in the room just in case the doctor didn’t get there in time. I was pushing when the doctor arrived. This couple should not be getting a ticket. Medical emergencies happen and not everyone can afford an ambulance. There should be some understanding for this situation. Also, just because someone can’t afford an ambulance doesn’t mean they are on some kind of entitlement program.

  • C Anderson

    If you had taken the time to investigate the incident before releasing to the public this would have not torn our town and community apart. This is the kind of reporting that gives our police officers a bad rap. First pregnant woman in Labor, held at gun point by police. The headline is misleading, let’s see where was the couple coming from, Pomeroy which is 31 miles from Fort Dodge, IA (where the couple was finial stopped). Manson where the couple was spotted by the office is about 17 miles from Fort Dodge, by the way the speed limit there is 45 mph. So if they were going 80 to 85 mph that is almost double the speed limit through the city limits. The couple said they tried to call 911 but did not mention the call was not made until they had ran over the tire sticks in Fort Dodge. Why did he not call 911 as they were leaving their house (31 miles away) put on their car emergency blinkers or stop when the officer turned on his lights and tell the officer their situation? Then none of this would have happened. Instead he sped past the officer at 80+ mph NEVER SLOWING DOWN. Highway 7 is a very dangerous road at night with a lot of truck traffic during harvest time. Then there is the deer that are being forced out of the woods during this time of year. Let’s say the officer did not try to stop them and miles down the road the couple crashed and was injured or killed, or even crashed into another couple or young adults and killed them? That would be a story, not bashing the officers for doing their job and making light of the danger the couples actions caused.
    Held at gun point, let’s see after trying to stop a car for 17 miles at speeds of 85+ mph having to put out spikes, oh the spikes were deployed twice they did not stop at the first set, only after driving over the first set and then the second set of spikes did they stop, from what I have heard this is around the time they called 911.
    The couples arrogant actions and disregard for other’s safety put not only their lives, but the life of their unborn child, the officers and the unsuspecting people in the community. Let’s ask how many officers were involved in this and could not have their time been better spent protecting and serving our community somewhere else. What if there was a crime, robbery, domestic assault, or fire happening at this time and because they were involved in this situation someone somewhere else lost their life. THINK ABOUT IT. We talk about child safety driving 30mph over the speed limit is criminal and endangering the life of a child. Like leaving them in a hot car, going to a bar and leaving them outside. Think about it.
    These people are not victims but criminal due to their arrogance disregard and disrespect for the law and others safety. That is the story. I which the reporters and news stations would stop jumping to conclusions and start investigating first. Police officers put their life on the line every day. I which you people would get it right and quit reporting things in a way just to make headlines.

  • Carol Cantell Moorby

    It’s hard to imagine how any of us would react in such an emergency. people panic and they do things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do. I’m sure by now he has learned from his mistake . All he could think of was his wife screaming in pain and ordering him to keep going.Thats enough to cloud any mans judgement. Let he who is sinless cast the first stone. 85 is way too dangerous and everybody knows that. Better to give birth on the way then to die on the way for sure. Thank The Lord all ended well! There are exceptions to every rule. The father meant no harm actually. I’m sure that the father thought that once he got to the hospital the policeman would see the real reason for speeding. We all make mistakes from time to time. Hopefully the fines can be eradicated this time. A hard hearted judge will push for the fine to be paid. Someone with a little compassion will reconsider the sentence. I don’t agree with what he did…I merely understand what he did and why!

  • Korey Averill

    Yes, he could have pulled over. However, his wife was on the phone with 911. They were trying to do the right thing. Is this what the police do with a speeding vehicle, blow out the tires and hold people at gunpoint? No other criminal activity, no stolen vehicle, nothing. The police seem to think since they have the means for force, they should use it. What they should do is apologize. This is ridiculous. The sheriff’s department should be embarrassed.

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