Man saves choking woman's life along highway

By: Steven Powell Email
By: Steven Powell Email

GRAYSON COUNTY, TX - Debbie Ingram was leaving the grocery store Friday, ready to start her weekend. But it's thanks to a local Texoma man that her weekend - and future - was possible.

Ingram said she was driving down Hwy 691 when a piece of popcorn shrimp lodged in her throat.

"Several cars went by, and I was making the universal choking sign, and they just kept going by," she said. "And I had no oxygen."

Ingram said she had pulled into the median and was struggling outside of her car.

Whitesboro resident John Ray said he was headed to a concert with his wife when he saw Ingram along the highway.

At first Ray thought she was hurt, and told his wife to call 911, he said. But after seeing the popcorn shrimp in the cupholder, he realized she was choking.

"I kinda put two and two together, that's why I turned to her and I was like 'are you choking?' And she looked up at me and kinda shook her head," he said. "That's when I gave her the Heimlich."

Ingram said as she fought for air in the median, she knew she could die.

"Just before he had pulled over, I was thinking to myself it has to happen now," she said. "Somebody's got to help me or I'll be dead. I knew it."

While Ingram says she's lucky to be alive, luck is an understatement considering how Ray was able to find her.

Instead of taking the highway, Ray said he took the service road.

"I'm not really sure why I took the back road," he said. "As a matter of fact my wife actually asked me about it. And I was like 'I just wanted to go this way.'"

Ingram said Ray will forever be her hero. And she's not the only one who thinks so.

"I told my son; I had called him and told him," she said. "He says 'momma I don't pray a lot, but I'm praying for Mr. John Ray.'"

However, Ray's said he's not a hero.

"...She was healthy, and happy, and she was very thankful about it - and alive - that's the most important thing."


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