A Missouri woman died in a car crash going to the hospital to give birth, but her baby managed to survive—leaving her grieving family to pick up the pieces, the AP reports. The baby's father, Matt Rider, was driving Sarah Iler from Cape Girardeau to Poplar Bluff on Wednesday when a tractor trailer slammed into their SUV and pushed it into the median. Ejected from the vehicle, Iler received CPR from responding officers but was declared dead upon arrival at a Cape Girardeau hospital. That's when doctors performed an emergency Cesarean section to save her daughter, who came into the world full-term at just 4 pounds, 15 ounces, and was temporarily put on a ventilator.
Maddyson took hold of a nurse's finger and opened her eyes when she was born, says Kasandra Iler, the mom's sister, but doctors can't say whether the lack of oxygen after her mom's death gave the newborn brain damage. Rider, who was estranged from Iler and recently reconciled, was also ejected from the SUV and underwent several surgeries after a few ribs and all his limbs were broken, the Southeast Missourian reports. Like his new daughter, Rider is in fair condition. Now the family, which has little money, has started a GoFundMe account to pay for Iler's funeral as they grapple with the loss. "The thought never once entered my head that that baby might die," says Kasandra. "I felt my sister gave her life to save this baby. That’s how God wanted it."