Dashing Dad Cleared

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - 10:02am

Speeding ticket given to dad rushing wife to delivery room thrown out by judge.

A New Hampshire man was found not guilty and will get to keep his driver's license after he was ticketed for speeding when he was trying to rush his pregnant wife to the hospital.

On September 18 troopers said they clocked John Coughlin going 102 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone as he rushed to get his wife, Angela, to the hospital.

Her water broke and she went into labor.

A state trooper was trying to pull the Coughlin's over.

"The vehicle was still traveling at 102 miles per hour," said Trooper Francisco Vicente of the New Hampshire State Police. "It wasn't showing any signs that it was slowing down."

The judge said Coughlin was driving too fast, but because of the circumstances with his wife, the time of day and because Coughlin called 911 to explain to the dispatcher what was going on he was found not guilty.

"I think this was the tale of the tape, and the tape really conveyed what kind of emergency, and what level of emergency it was," said Mark Stevens, defense attorney.

The following is an excerpt of that 911 call to explain what was going on:

Caller: "I'm being pulled over by a cop, but my wife's in labor. Her water just broke."

Dispatcher: "Sir, Sir, stay on the line with me. I'm gonna transfer you to state police. (Screaming) Is she ok?"

Caller: "He's right behind me, I don't want him to think I'm out running him."

Dispatcher: "Can you pull over please?"

Caller: "The baby's gonna come out and we're right at the hospital...I think the officer's helping me, he's in front of me now."

Angela was brought to tears listening to her husband's desperate 911 call for help while she was on the stand.

State police say that night their trooper used good judgment, pointing out that once he realized what was happening he helped them get to the hospital, and then he issued the ticket instead of arresting John.

"We would not encourage the motoring public to use this case as an example of what to do and how to drive when you're faced with an emergency," said Lt. Chris Aucoin of the New Hampshire State Police.

The last time Coughlin appeared in court he found out the speeding ticket could cost him $500 and a suspended license.

Coughlin went to court for the third time on Monday, and now the Coughlin family is just happy that this case is closed.

"I'm just relieved…just glad to put it behind us," said John Coughlin.

"It just brings me back to that night, and no one knows what it was like inside that car except us," said Angela Coughlin.

The baby was born within minutes of the Coughlins arriving at the hospital.

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