Friday, June 29, 2007
First, Recent Widow Gets Back Her Stolen Car Then She Delivers a Son
By T.J. Wilham
Journal Staff Writer
The doors and trunk to the stolen Honda Civic were open as police searched for fingerprints and DNA.
A pregnant Alia Dahl, who had come to recover her car, thanked everyone for their help after the death of her husband, Joel, last week in Iraq and the theft of her car this week.
Then, another surprise.
"My water just broke," a bent-over Dahl said, smiling. "Oh, my God."
Within an hour, Dahl was in labor at a local hospital. She gave birth at 7:32 p.m. Thursday to a son, Kaiden Anthony.
"He's beautiful," said Dahl's mother, Joyce Driscoll. "He's a good baby; he's looking at everything. I don't remember my babies having their eyes open this much."
Last Friday, Dahl talked to her husband, a corporal who was a member of the Army's Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division. She made plans for him to return home a few days after she was expected to have labor induced.
But, the next day, two soldiers arrived at her home to tell her Joel had been killed by small-arms fire.
Then, on Wednesday morning, Dahl woke up to find that her car had been stolen while she was staying with her brother in Albuquerque.
Her luck changed Thursday.
A group of police officers told her that enough money had been raised to buy her a new car.
In fact, donations have been pouring in. Car dealerships and residents offered free cars and money, and while at lunch Thursday, Sheriff Darren White said, waitresses were handing him cash to give to the Dahl family.
In all, $18,000 was raised within 24 hours, White said.
"When we started this, our goal was to buy her a new car, and that is what we are going to do," said White, who has been organizing fundraising efforts. "Everyone was saddened by Alia's situation. I think everyone in the community wanted a part in righting this wrong, and they have."
Meanwhile, with the aid of helicopters and extra patrols, police had been searching throughout the city for Dahl's car.
It was found about 11 a.m. Thursday, by a Sandia Prep security guard, parked in a lot next to the school's tennis courts.
When security guard Leonard Garcia found it, a man with slicked-back hair, a white T-shirt and black pants was standing next to it before running away when he saw the guard, police said.
Unfortunately, irreplaceable items, such as a CD of wedding songs her husband made, a grandmother-made baby blanket and sergeant stripes the soldier hoped to put on one day, were gone.
Also missing was the overnight bag Alia Dahl made for when she went into labor.
A ripped car seat and a soda can police believe belonged to the thief were all that remained.
Dahl was visiting her doctor when police found the car.
She arrived at the scene soon after, hoping to get it back. She gave interviews to reporters while police obtained fingerprints from the car.
"After seeing what all of Albuquerque was doing to work together to help me, it doesn't surprise me that the car was found so quickly," Dahl said. "I am so overwhelmed by everything."
As she was finishing her interview, Dahl walked back to her mother's car, bent over and looked at her mother and a Journal reporter, then announced she had just gone into labor.
Police spokesman John Walsh ran to her, officers called for an ambulance and Dahl was put in the front passenger seat of her mother's car to wait.
"Just like his father, he has to be the center of attention," she said, laughing and holding her abdomen.
Moments later, paramedics walked her to an ambulance and took her to the University of New Mexico Hospital.
Her sister-in-law followed in the recovered Honda Civic.
Visitation for Cpl. Joel Dahl will be from 4-8 p.m. Sunday, July 8, at First United Methodist Church in Belen.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday, July 9, at First United, with the burial to follow at Santa Fe National Cemetery.