Alexandria, Virginia

Keith Burgoon of Fort Smith, Arkansas, a professional truck driver for ABF Freight System also of Fort Smith, Arkansas, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA). He is being recognized for rescuing a man from choking.

On May 30, 2018, Burgoon was dispatched from Louisville, Kentucky to St. Louis, Missouri – an ordinary route for him. However, due to changing freight, Burgoon traveled to multiple cities, finally ending his day in Memphis, Tennessee.

After securing a hotel for the evening, Burgoon decided to treat himself to a steak dinner at the local Longhorn Steakhouse. As he didn’t want to wait for a table, Burgoon noticed an open seat at the horseshoe-shaped bar and struck up a conversation with a couple.

Burgoon ordered his meal and the three conversed. Just then, the man he’d been talking with stood up quickly from his seat. Burgoon immediately noticed that something was wrong.

“I said, ‘Are you OK?’ and the man just shook his head back and forth to signal no, he was not alright,” said Burgoon.

Without a moment to spare, the professional truck driver performed the Heimlich maneuver multiple times to no avail. By this point the restaurant manager on duty noticed what was happening and called 911.

“I told the man to not use his stomach muscles, because I knew he had to try and relax for it to work,” remembered Burgoon.

Finally, on the third and final attempt, Burgoon was able to help dislodge the piece of steak from the man’s esophagus allowing him to breathe. The visibly-shaken man told Burgoon that he was almost to the point of passing out but that he had saved his life.

Burgoon and the couple sat and talked for a little while longer, then shook hands. “I told them I work for ABF Freight, and that I wasn’t supposed to be here that evening. But they told me that God needed me there that day,” he said.

The ABF Freight System driver is a dive master and was required to know CPR, Heimlich maneuver, and other life saving techniques for his certification.

“These life skills came in handy for sure that day!” he said. “I’m not a hero, I just helped a fellow citizen who needed it, and am glad I happened to be the one sitting there.”

For his willingness to assist a fellow citizen, TCA has presented Burgoon with a certificate, patch, lapel pin, and truck decals. ABF Freight System also received a certificate acknowledging their driver as a Highway Angel.