Tennessee National Guard soldier Sgt. Leann Roggensack was driving home in the rain on May 27 when she noticed a car in her neighborhood was pulled over with the flashers on.
The 29-year-old initially drove past, as it was around 11 p.m. and she was alone. But she was compelled to turn around and see if the driver needed help.
What Roggensack saw when she pulled up was a new mother standing next to the vehicle, still attached via umbilical cord to her newborn son, who was lying on the pavement covered in blood. Immediately, Roggensack retrieved her phone, towels and an iPhone charger.
As a nurse with extensive experience helping mothers and babies, Roggensack knew what to do as she waited for EMTs to arrive.
While on the phone with emergency medical services, she used the iPhone charger to tie off the umbilical cord when the mother delivered the placenta. Roggensack wrapped the newborn in a towel and waited with the mother in the rain.
Despite her years of experience as a nurse and a cannon crewmember in the Tennessee Army National Guard, Roggensack said she had never encountered a situation like that. She was used to having medications, supplies and others around to help her in such dire moments, she said.
“I’ve never had that kind of adrenaline rush before,” Roggensack said. “I didn’t sleep for 48 hours after that.”
Roggensack is a soldier in the Tennessee Army National Guard’s 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Most of her work has been in field artillery since she enlisted in 2015 as Tennessee’s first female cannon crewmember.
Before working her current day job at an orthopedics company, Roggensack was a nurse at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville for four years, where she mainly worked with mothers and newborn babies.
A fellow guardsman was “not surprised” that Roggensack stepped in to help someone in need.
“(Roggensack is) such a strong trooper, always volunteering for that extra duty that no one wants, whether it be a competition or whether it be just setting a standard,” said Arturo Guzman, a public affairs noncommissioned officer at the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment who deployed to Poland with Roggensack in 2018. “It is really a privilege to serve alongside her and to have her in our ranks.”
Roggensack kept in touch with the mother after her delivery, and found out the child would be put up for adoption. The mother had carried through with the pregnancy but knew from the beginning that she would not be able to keep the child even though she loved him, Roggensack said.
The child’s birth mother could not be reached for comment.
Coincidentally, Roggensack had family friends, Sara and Paul Wizniuk, who had been looking to adopt and expand their family. In addition to raising their own two daughters, the family had been fostering children for about a year and had all the paperwork ready to adopt, according to the family’s GoFundMe page.
The GoFundMe page, which was created to help with adoption expenses, met its goal within 24 hours of being created and has now raised nearly $16,000. The extra funds will go toward the baby’s medical treatments, Sara Wizniuk said in a post to the page.
The Wizniuks could not be reached for comment on this story.
Roggensack had kept in touch with the birth mother after the incident, who requested that the soldier become the baby’s godmother ― a request the Wizniuks supported. The baby was baptized in early July, with Roggensack as godmother.
Roggensack said she was glad she encountered this situation rather than someone who had a stroke or another medical emergency. Her experience working in postnatal care as a nurse allowed her muscle memory to kick in and help this mother and child, she said.
“She’s a professional in all aspects of the word,” Guzman said of Roggensack. “As a soldier, as a nurse, as a person, she has such a caring heart.”