Deputy saves woman with Heimlich maneuver during traffic stop

ByWill Jones via WLS logo
Thursday, November 23, 2017
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A traffic stops turned into a life-saving moment for a northwest Indiana sheriff's deputy.

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. -- A traffic stop turned into a life-saving moment for an Indiana sheriff's deputy.

A La Porte County deputy pulled a woman over near Michigan City, then realized she was choking.

It was just after 10:30 a.m. Tuesday when La Porte County Sheriff's Deputy Austin Wells had a traffic stop that he'll never forget.

"I was kind of in shock to be honest with you. I have made hundreds of traffic stops," Wells said. "I was travelling southbound on U.S. 421 out of Michigan City and noticed a vehicle coming toward me at a pretty high rate of speed, clocked the vehicle going 70 mph in a 45 mph zone."

After he pulled over the 65-year-old woman, he could see she was struggling to breathe.

"The driver had a very deep reddish, almost purple look in her face and her lips were a little blue tint," Wells said. "She kept making a couple of gestures towards me that she was unable to breathe."

Wells pulled the woman from her car and performed the Heimlich maneuver.

"I ended up dislodging what ended up being a honey mustard nut from her airway," Wells said. "She was very thankful. She just kept repeating, 'thank you, thank you.' She was very scared and I would have been too if I was in that situation."

The woman told the deputy she was in a panic, searching for a place to pull over. That's why she was speeding.

"Had she passed out due to not being able to breathe, she could have struck a tree and injured herself or struck another vehicle," Wells said.

Wells graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in June. He has been on patrol for five months.

"Any traffic stop is any given thing, you never know what's going to happen when you walk up to the car. Obviously Deputy Wells relied on this training," said the La Porte County Sheriff's Office.

Once EMS arrived, the woman refused medical treatment and continued on her way.

"I don't feel like a hero. I was just doing my job and I was happy I was in the right place at the right time," Wells said. "It felt a lot better than issuing a citation or warning. That's for sure."