NEW MARKET, Md. - Back in 1999, a Montgomery County police officer helped deliver a baby boy in a van on the side of the road on Interstate 270. Eighteen years later, the officer was there for another milestone moment for that boy - his high school graduation.
On Nov. 13, 1999 at around 1:30 a.m., Officer Robert Hunt was conducting a traffic stop on the highway in the area of Middlebrook Road.
"I was finishing the traffic stop up and a minivan pulls over and the husband, Joe, he gets out and he [says] my wife is in labor and I don't know what to do and kind of frantic," Hunt recalled. "I grabbed a pair of gloves and I went around and she was in labor."
"I just remember my husband getting out of the van and saying there is a police officer and I think he can help us," said Melissa Duboyce.
As Melissa was giving birth, Officer Hunt said he had to move the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby's neck in order to get him to breathe.
"I had to clear his mouth and get him to cry," Hunt said. "He started crying and another officer who responded brought a towel and we wrapped him in it and handed him to Melissa."
Both Melissa and the baby were transported to the hospital.
"The delivery went really smoothly," said Melissa. "He did everything and the next thing I knew, we were on our way to the hospital and he was doing great."
On Friday, 18-year-old Thomas Robert Duboyce graduated from Oakdale High School. Hunt was there at Mount St. Mary's University to see Thomas receive his diploma.
"Before the ceremony, they had us all gather in the gymnasium at Mount St. Mary's and one of my teachers came up to me and said someone who hasn't seen you in 18 years is here and he says he wants to see you," said Thomas. "So I was really confused. I had no idea he was going to be there. But as soon as I walked out and saw him, I recognized him from pictures and everything. So it was a nice surprise seeing him there."
"It's probably the best thing that has happened to me in my career," said Officer Hunt. "Normally we don't get to deal with stuff like that every day. It's usually more bad than good."
Hunt is now a 24-year veteran of the Montgomery County Police Department.
"Another officer whose kid was graduating today saw my picture in his son's yearbook and he sent it to me," said Hunt. "He was like, 'Is this you in the yearbook?' And I go, 'Yeah, that is the child I delivered on I-270.' So when I found out he was graduating, I said I would like to go to it and he wound up getting me tickets to go today, and I showed up today and surprised him."
"We stay in touch through Christmas cards and everything, but this is a great surprise," said Melissa. "My husband passed away in August and it has been a really hard year and this was a really nice surprise. So this is really a blessing and I am thankful for [Hunt] and his wife."
Thomas' middle name is Robert, which was chosen by his parents after the officer who delivered him.