One small fry to go, please

NORTH AUGUSTA --- Tonya Tillman said she never expected her first child would be born at one of her favorite restaurants.

But Ezekiel James Tillman, 6 pounds, 5 ounces, arrived Friday afternoon in the parking lot of Gary's Hamburgers on Georgia Avenue in North Augusta.

His father, Rodney, said the Tillmans had even stopped there earlier to have breakfast after visiting Augusta's Trinity Hospital.

Mrs. Tillman, whose due date was July 17, had begun having labor pains in the morning, but she was sent home.

North Augusta Department of Public Safety said it received a call at 4:28 p.m. that a woman was in labor and on her way to the hospital.

Officials directed her to Gary's to wait for the ambulance.

"We provided life support until EMS could get here," Lt. Clay Swann said. The baby was wrapped in a foil blanket for warmth.

With the help of her husband and mother-in-law, Bena, Mrs. Tillman, 32, delivered her first child in the backseat of a van.

"She didn't really need help," her mother-in-law said. "She pushed and the head came out."

Mr. Tillman said he named his son Ezekiel for its biblical meaning, strength of God.

"Oh man, it's amazing," he said. "The doctors are like in awe. They can't believe she had it that quick."

Mr. Tillman said his wife's water broke at 3:55 p.m. and Ezekiel was born 25 minutes later.

Having their baby at Gary's is almost appropriate for the North Augusta couple. Mr. Tillman said they are regulars.

"We both love Gary's restaurant," he said. "We were just saying the other day how Gary's has the best hamburger in town."

Gary's manager Andrew Watson said, to his knowledge, it's the restaurant's first baby.

Reach Crystal Garcia at crystal.garcia@northaugustatoday.com.