Choking woman saved by off-duty Abilene fireman and restaurant manager

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ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An evening dinner at Texas Roadhouse nearly turned tragic for an elderly couple passing through the Key City on Sunday, October 17.

“We were short on busboys that night so I was busing tables in the next room. When I turned around, I noticed a elderly couple and it looked like the old man was giving the woman the Heimlich,” says Texas Roadhouse Assistant Manager Gilbert Torres.

Torres was formerly a firefighter. He says all his training started coming back to him in that moment as he rushed to the woman’s aid.

“I immediately threw the bus tub down and I started to give her the Heimlich. Right then she went unconscious, her body went limp,” Torres recalled.

With the weight of a human life in his hands, Torres says he kept a brave face, trying not to cause a panic.

“Inside I was freaking out. Every part of me was like, ‘Please don’t die, please don’t die, please don’t die,” said Torres.

From across the room, off-duty Abilene Fireman Johnathan Boen stood up and rushed to help. He asked Torres to administer CPR.

“I said, ‘I’m not certified,’ and he said, ‘That’s OK, I can do it,'” Torres says.

They worked together to keep the woman’s condition from worsening.

“I think it was like literally on the 33rd chest compression is when she came to, and I just remember thinking, ‘Oh, thank God,” said Torres.

Torres recalls seeing the woman’s husband grasping her hand through it all, concerned and stressed as they tried to save his wife.

She passed out one more time, but was revived by Boen. Abilene Fire Chief Cande Flores says that the two men’s quick action saved her life that night.

“Our guys were going to be there pretty quick, but every moment counts when it comes to someone who’s not breathing,” Chief Flores said. “We feel certain that his interactions saved a life.”

Torres says that before he left for the hospital with his wife, the man tried to pay their bill. He told them it was covered and the man gave him a $100 bill to give to their waitress in gratitude.

“If that was my grandmother on the floor right there, I would do everything in my power to make sure she makes it out alive, and I just think, ‘You know, that’s somebody else’s grandma. I’ve got to get this lady back to her family,'” Torres says.

Though Boen left before Torres could talk to him, he says a free meal is waiting the next time he walks through those doors.

Boen was recognized by AFD for his quick and decisive actions that night.

Boen with his certificate of commendation.

We reached out to Boen for comment, but he declined, saying he didn’t want the attention.

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