Polk Co. deputy saves life of choking boy along side of highway

Polk Co. deputy saves life of choking boy along side of highway
Source: Melissa Rodriguez
Source: Melissa Rodriguez
Source: Polk County Sheriff's Office
Source: Polk County Sheriff's Office

LIVINGSTON, TX (KTRE) - May 14, 2016; a date Melissa Rodriguez says she will never forget. All starting along US-59 in Livingston as she and her son Juan made their way to Lufkin.

"All of a sudden, my son jumped from his seat. And my sister, who's with me, sees him. She's like 'Ok, he's choking, you need to pull over," Rodriguez said.

Melissa did just that only to discover Juan wasn't breathing.

"We were trying to rip out whatever he has, so we started doing the Heimlich maneuver," Rodriguez said.

But that wasn't working. In the meantime, cars continued to speed by. One of which being driven by Sergeant Phillip Waller.

"When I came down the bypass, I noticed a car parked on the shoulder of the road and two women standing beside it. As I got closer, they began to wave me down and I could tell they were pretty frantic," said Sergeant Phillip Waller.

Rightfully so; 7-year-old Juan didn't have much longer.

"I just got on my knees and I started praying to God. I felt like I couldn't do anything for him," Rodriguez said.

"He had blood all over his face. Blood coming out of his mouth, his nose. I immediately accessed that he had some sort of obstruction," Waller said.

That obstruction, a small bouncing ball. As little Juan lay practically lifeless in Waller's arms, he decided to try one last thing.

"Put my hand on his throat with my thumb and I pressed up. At the same time with my finger I tried to remove the object and it popped out," Waller said.

A miraculous act…

"It's because of him that my son is here today," Rodriguez said.

…but don't call him a hero.

"All I could think of while I was doing what I was doing was, 'little buddy, you're not going to die on me today'. I knew I had to do something so thank God it turned out the way it did," Waller said.

Juan is still in a Houston hospital tonight, but just for observation. He is expected to be released on Monday.

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