Taylor Gelow was just trying to bring dinner home to her husband.
Instead, that trip was interrupted when a hit and run driver caused Gelow to crash her car, go into premature labor and deliver the couple’s first baby seven weeks early.
On June 27, Gelow was driving west on Lincoln Avenue when suddenly a white commercial van going the other direction turned left in front of her, onto Kennedy Way — between the Napa Valley Adult Education campus and the Napa Valley Unified School District headquarters.
“I had to slam on my brakes … to avoid a head-on collision,” said Gelow, but the two vehicles did collide partially. That momentum then caused Gelow’s car to crash into a nearby pole, severely damaging her vehicle.
The driver “stopped for a second,” and then “he took off through the parking lot.”
“I have no idea” why the driver didn’t stop, said Gelow, who is 33. “It’s definitely a shock.”
An ambulance took Gelow to Kaiser Vallejo. At first, everything with her pregnancy seemed to be fine and Gelow went home to Napa.
But the next morning she started having contractions.
“I started cramping,” she said. “I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t sit down.” Her water broke as she got out of the car at Kaiser, she said.
About 33 weeks pregnant, Gelow’s due date was supposed to be Aug. 6. But her baby wasn’t going to wait the full 40 weeks.
At 4:44 p.m. on June 28, Colt Bennett Gelow came into the world, weighing 5 lbs. 13 oz.
“He went straight to the NICU,” where he remained as of Wednesday, said Gelow. “He’s so little, he had to be on a feeding tube.”
Gelow hasn’t left Kaiser either.
“I refuse to leave until he can come home.”
“I go to every feeding,” she said. I’m in there all the time. I’m on a first name basis with everybody.”
Fortunately, her husband, Kyle Gelow, works in Vallejo and is able to visit his wife and baby.
“I’m just trying to look at the positive side,” said Gelow. “We’re in the best place possible for him.”
“Now we’re just waiting” until he’s able to go home.
It hasn’t been easy, Gelow said.
“I haven’t really been sleeping,” she said. “I get a few hours here and there. My husband will try to get me to go home, but I don’t want to leave.”
Besides worrying about her baby, she’s also uneasy about riding in a car. “I’m worried that when I’m driving someone is going to hit me” with Colt in the car.
This new mom said she’s not sure when Colt will be able to leave the hospital. “The doctors said a week or two. Now we’re pushing two weeks,” she said.
“He still has a feeding tube. They want to make sure he’s eating enough and gaining weight.”
After losing a bit of weight, as most newborns do, Colt is back up to 5 lbs. 13 ounces again.
The Napa Police posted on Facebook a security camera image of the white van reportedly involved with the hit and run. A sign on the side of the van was for a mobile repair auto glass company. Two phone numbers are visible in the image.
Napa police Lt. Brian Campagna said the police are still investigating the accident.
They have called the numbers on the van. However, “many times these older vans get sold,” or the number on the van might not be related to the current owner of the vehicle, he said.
“We’re trying to figure that out.”
In addition, “We’re looking to find out if there were any witnesses,” Campagna said.
“If this is a legitimate windshield repair business (and) they had a customer up here we’re interested in speaking with the customer to find out if they have some better contact information.”
The charges could include hit and run and failure to yield. However, “we don’t know what else yet,” Campagna said.
“If the (driver) sees this, we would like that person to contact us so we can get their side of the story,” he said.
A message left by a Napa Valley Register reporter at one phone number printed on the side of the van was not immediately returned. A second number printed on the van was not in service.
Meanwhile, the couple’s families have rallied around them and their new son, said Taylor Gelow.
“Both our moms and dads and siblings have been coming to visit and making sure were doing OK,” she said. Her in-laws were able to set up her nursery, she said. It’s decorated in shades of white, gray and black.
Even though she planned to take time off for her maternity leave, the accident means that both of the new parents had to miss work earlier than expected. “So it’s been a bit of a hardship,” Gelow said.
Then there’s the damage to her car.
“The whole left side of my car is pretty messed up,” she said. “The wheel well was jammed up in the door.”
Her Hyundai Santa Fe was almost brand new, said Gelow. “I’ve only had it for a year and a half,” she said. The only good news is that Gelow works for AUL Corp., an extended warranty contract service company based in Napa. Gelow has such an extended warranty.
“You can never be too careful,” she said.
While Gelow remains focused on her baby and bringing Colt home, “I’m still pretty mad,” she said.
Maybe the driver of the van wanted to avoid an insurance claim, speculated Gelow. “But you should be a decent human and stop.”