Colossal snowfall couldn't stop Halifax dad's cross-country trek to see new son

Drew Mancini was in Calgary when he learned the baby was going to arrive earlier than expected

Nova Scotia's massive snowfall last week couldn't stop new dad Drew Mancini from travelling halfway across the country to meet his son.

The baby, Maximus, was due for Valentine's Day. But Mancini's partner, Kalei Cochrane, ended up going into labour on Saturday, Feb. 3. Mancini, who lives in Halifax but was driving a company truck to Calgary, decided he would fly home so he could be there for Cochrane.

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"I don't stress very much from running my business. I'm in the the trucking industry and plans change frequently and things are fast moving. So I just figured I'll work with anything," Mancini told CBC News in an interview on Friday.

In Halifax, Cochrane said it was very emotional being in labour without Mancini being there.

"It was crazy," she said.

Cochrane said she began feeling cramps throughout Saturday.

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Issues at the airport

"I just thought it was Braxton Hicks [contractions], but then it progressively got really bad throughout the day," she said. "And then in the evening, I was like, 'All right Mom, we gotta go.' So my mom took me to the hospital and it turns out I was one centimetres dilated. Then they had me walk around the building and then it got worse by the hours."

Maximus arrived on Sunday at 12:01 p.m. AT. Cochrane says her mom stayed with her as the baby was taken to the intensive care unit for newborns. His hands, feet and mouth were turning blue, and then he was jaundiced.

In Calgary, Mancini managed to get a flight to Halifax that had a stop in Toronto — but because of the snow in Nova Scotia, the Halifax passengers weren't allowed on the plane.

"They kicked us all off," Mancini said.

Mancini said he was able to convince the airline to let him fly to Toronto.

Nathan Coleman: New Glasgow Nova Scotia snow clean up - Feb 7, 2024. (4) | major snowstorm, historic storm, atlantic, winter, car, buried, snow

(Nathan Coleman/The Weather Network)

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"I had every plan from just landing in Toronto and just driving the rest of the way for 15 hours or so," he said.

Airline rep comes through

Once in Toronto, Mancini's mother — who lives an hour and 45 minutes from Toronto — managed to find him a flight to Fredericton. She drove to Pearson International airport, brought a change of clothes for Manicini, and dropped him off at Billy Bishop Airport in hopes that he could get a ticket for that flight.

"I went in and spoke to a really helpful Porter [Airlines] representative who said he couldn't do anything there. But he made some phone calls and he did what he could and then he just handed me a boarding ticket," Mancini said.

"I didn't have to pay anything extra for it ... he said, 'Here you go, good luck getting there.' I hopped on the flight and I landed in Fredericton."

Drew Mancini, Kalei Cochrane and son Maximus iwknicu/Instagram via CBC

Drew Mancini with his partner Kalei Cochrane and son Maximus. They were discharged from the IWK NICU on Friday. (iwknicu/Instagram)

He landed in Fredericton on Sunday at 8 p.m. He said he asked a "really nice rental car guy at Avis" to give him their best four-by-four.

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"He gave me a nice Jeep Cherokee and I ran the snowstorm for the next five hours and got to the hospital just before 3 a.m. And I've been pretty much away for the whole two days that this had been going on," Mancini said.

Mancini said driving through the snow wasn't particularly scary for him. In fact, he may have been uniquely qualified to make that drive.

Driving through the snow

"I did a few years in the military and as well as I have 10 years experience hauling heavy commercial loads with two trailers. They call them B trains. And so I have a lot of experience in adverse weather conditions," he said.

Mancini said he wouldn't have risked the drive in a regular car.

"There was lots of people in the ditch, there was lots of stuff going on, but I just wanted to keep moving," he said. "I knew I wanted to be there no matter what, and so I wasn't going to be a minute later than I could be."

Nathan Coleman - Halifax snowstorm2 - Feb5.jpg

(Nathan Coleman/The Weather Network)

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Baby 'very strong' and 'super happy'

Cochrane said lots of stress was lifted off her shoulders once Mancini arrived.

"It was awesome," she said.

Since arriving, Mancini has been up with his son so Cochrane can get some rest.

The family was discharged from the hospital on Friday. Baby Maximus is doing well.

"He's very strong and he's super happy. He's just hanging out here with his eyes open," Mancini said.

WATCH: Time-lapse video: See just how much snow fell during East Coast storm

Thumbnail courtesy of iwknicu/Instagram via CBC.

The story was originally written by Anjuli Patil and published for CBC News.