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Storm forces mom to have baby early

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, May 11, 2007, at 1:36 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008, at 5:15 p.m.

Seven months pregnant, Bonnie Harding just wanted to get into her pajamas and go to bed.

Instead she ended up trapped in a basement for 3 ½ hours in a storm that threatened her life.

Earlier Friday evening, Harding, her husband and two boys had been to a barbecue in nearby Kinsley when the weather turned stormy.

They headed back to Greensburg and by 9 p.m. Friday, the two boys, Tristen Lee, age 5; and Treyton Keith, 2, were tucked in bed.

Harding's husband, James Gerad Zink was on the computer checking for a weather update.

As the Greensburg siren sounded, the two 23-year-old parents grabbed the kids and climbed into the family car.

"Our house didn't have a basement and we headed out of town," Harding said Thursday from the Central Kansas Medical Center in Great Bend.

Within minutes, the young family turned around and headed back into town to get Gerad's brother.

Out of time, they went to the Greensburg senior center, where there was a basement.

They hung on to each other.

"You could heard the building falling down. You could hear everything falling down," Harding said. "The roof on the shelter started leaking, and we knew something bad was happening. We just held our breaths."

They'd left their dog, Sadie, a boxer, in the car. Harding feared the dog was dead.

For the 3 ½ hours the family was trapped in the basement, Harding was in a bad position for the baby inside her.

A blood clot began to form, threatening the baby's heart rate.

She was taken to the hospital at Great Bend, where at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday Alex James Harding was born, two months premature, in an emergency delivery.

He was immediately rushed to Wichita's Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Joseph Campus. He remains in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. He now weights 3 pounds, 6 ounces.

"I was so groggy I don't remember seeing him," Harding said. "Everybody told me I did."

Although Alex James was born two months early, hospital spokeswoman Roz Hutchinson said Thursday "the baby is doing well."

Harding is expecting to be released from Great Bend's hospital in four days and then the family immediately plans on heading to Wichita for a reunion with Alex.

And Sadie, the dog?

A concrete support beam crushed the car, breaking windows and glass.

Hours after the storm, Sadie was coaxed out of the car.

"She didn't have a scratch on her," Harding said.

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