Stranger drives National Guard sergeant from Philadelphia to West Virginia in time for his son's birth

A National Guard sergeant made it home in time for his son's birth thanks to the help of a complete stranger.

Sgt. Seth Craven flew home from Kabul, Afghanistan, last week, where he currently serves with the West Virginia National Guard, according to MetroNews.

The 26-year-old was set to return to Charleston, W.Va., by Wednesday, giving plenty of time to spare before Friday morning, when his wife, Julie, was scheduled for a caesarian delivery.

But after flying from Afghanistan to Kuwait and finally to Philadelphia, Craven's connecting flight home was canceled, due to weather. He stayed overnight in a nearby hotel, hoping to catch the next flight out of Philadelphia Thursday morning. 

Craven hit more delays on Thursday. His plane sat on the tarmac for an hour and a half before the passengers were asked to exit the aircraft and wait for clearer weather. At that point, he was running out of options. 

"Because of the storms, there were not rental vehicles at all from the airport,” Craven told MetroNews. "The next flight wasn’t until 10:30 a.m. the next day. So I would have missed all of it."

The sergeant was nearly stranded when Charlene Vickers, another passenger on his Thursday flight, heard about his dilemma and offered to help. Vickers, a program director for the nonprofit AmeriHealth Caritas Partnership was also in need of a quick ride to Charleston, where she was organizing an event Friday afternoon.

"[My co-workers] kind of pointed to this gentleman and said that poor soul really needs to get back," Vickers told MetroNews. "That’s when I introduced myself."

She told Craven she was getting to Charleston that night — no matter what — and suggested he come along. When he heard the offer, the father-to-be left the airport with Vickers without even waiting for his suitcase. 

Vickers had her car in Philadelphia, so she, Craven and a few colleagues from the nonprofit started driving. 

Craven said he got to learn a lot about Vickers along the way.

"Her dad is a veteran, and we got to talk to him on the phone, which was pretty cool," he told Yahoo Lifestyle. "We talked about her kids and husband and I heard about the work she does with health and clinics in areas that need it."

For her part, Vickers said Craven's presence in the car came in handy.

"I was glad to have somebody who knew the roads," she told MetroNews. "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."

The group made it to Charleston around midnight, less than six hours before Craven's wife was scheduled for delivery. He made it to the hospital on time, and his son, named Cooper, was born Friday morning.

"If it wasn’t for Charlene I never would have made it," Craven told MetroNews.

The sergeant, who is due back in Afghanistan on August 20, said the only thing Vickers wanted in return was a photo of his newborn baby. He told Yahoo Lifestyle that he and his wife have been in touch with Vickers since then and that she even sent them a gift basket.

"Most of the news is so negative, I think this is a reminder that there are still nice people out there," Craven said of Vickers. "She has such a big heart. Most people wouldn’t do that."

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