While most of us celebrate America’s birthday with fireworks, one Florida family celebrated Independence Day last year with a different kind of a bang. John and Amber Easterday celebrated the Fourth of July with the birth of their third son while onboard a pontoon boat. Kind of makes you wonder how they’re going to top that kind of celebration this year, right?
Clearwater Fire & Rescue said a 911 call came in around 5 p.m. from John who said his wife was having contractions and was about to give birth on a pontoon boat. He was trying to make it to shore as fast as he could and was able to get to the Courtney Campbell Beach around 5:30 p.m. where Fire Medic Kenny Sweitzer and Fire Medic Tyler Whitfield were waiting. Then, just four minutes later, the family welcomed a baby boy – 10 days early – named Aiden.
John and Amber, along with their two children and the couple’s friends Jessica and Travis Gregg, rented a Bennington pontoon from Freedom Boat Club Tampa Bay to go out on Old Tampa Bay to celebrate the holiday.
“We had a boat reservation that day and we were going to go out like we normally do. I would not have been on the boat if I thought this was going to happen and I know it's dangerous, we took our chances, but I felt fine so we went out,” recalls Amber. “So we went out and about 30 minutes into our boat ride, the contractions definitely started.”
Amber immediately called her doctor.
“He had told me, ‘Wait a little bit,’ and within 40 minutes from that time I talked to him, the baby was out,” she said. “We couldn’t make it back to the dock to deliver. My husband had called 911.”
John says he began delivering his son while the boat headed for the shores of Courtney Campbell Beach.
“I said, ‘Travis, you need to go to the beach.’ I pointed out and said, ‘Do you see the beach there? Yeah okay, go now! Fast!’” John recalled. “The Fire Medics got on the boat and in three to four minutes from when they boarded the boat to when the baby was out, and I was cutting the umbilical cord.”
Paramedic Brandon Nelson then brought the baby to a local hospital.
So how did The Freedom Boat Club take the news that a baby was just born on one of their rental pontoons? Apparently quite well since the company ended up renaming the pontoon [Aiden's Arrival].
“We actually thought we would get charged for the boat cleaning or something and get in trouble for someone else having to drive the boat back who was not allowed, but they were very awesome,” said Amber. “Super cool for them to do this.”
Looking back a year later, the “miracle on the pontoon” story is still one the club is still sharing.
“It was quite the story and it came at the perfect time. We all needed that kind of feel-good story as the COVID pandemic was in full swing,” said Capt. Dean Iverson from the Freedom Boat Club. “Amber and John have been great to work with and they're always so positive about life. We love having them as members.”
We were able to catch up with the family recently, just prior to the Fourth of July weekend, to ask them if they have any specific plans this year to celebrate Aiden’s first birthday.
“We’re planning on taking the pontoon that is named after our son out for the Fourth,” shared John.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear their celebration will once again involve boating, sounds like a new family tradition has been born.