PENDLETON, Ind. (WISH) — An Anderson woman reunited Friday with the Indiana State Trooper who saved her from choking at a restaurant.
Janice Carroll, 75, said she “could have died” if senior trooper Scott Keegan hadn’t stepped in.
She and a friend were eating lunch Tuesday at Hacienda Vieja in Pendleton when food became lodged in her throat.
“I could not swallow,” Carroll told News 8. “I could not cough. I could not get [the food] up. I knew I was in trouble.”
A server rushed to help when he noticed her in distress, covering her mouth with a handkerchief, but was unable to clear her airway.
Keegan, who was sitting nearby, delivered life-saving back blows and abdominal thrusts after another server waved him over to help Carroll.
The 15-year Indiana State Police veteran began his first responder career in college; he served as a volunteer firefighter in Hanover.
“I’ve been in stressful situations before,” Keegan told News 8. “I view myself as a public servant. So whether that means changing a tire on the side of the road or taking criminals to jail, I’m there for the public. This is what my service called for this time.”
He was surprised the incident had been covered by media outlets across the nation and seemed hesitant to accept praise for “public service.”
Keegan’s modesty didn’t stop Carroll from showering him with praise.
“You are my hero,” she told him Friday, grasping his hand. “We were meant to be [at the restaurant] at the same time.”
Keegan had taken an early break Tuesday afternoon in order to spend time with his children before teaching an evening training course.
He was “grateful” he ate lunch at the same time as Carroll and was able to help in her moment of need, he said.
The two discussed making plans to see each other again during their reunion at the police post in Pendleton.
Maybe lunch, Carroll suggested — an uneventful one.