Garbage truck driver aids choking Clovis mom

The Fresno BeeMarch 1, 2014 

Katie Lane and her 3-year-old daughter, Bryten, like to wait in their driveway at their Harlan Ranch home every Tuesday to wave at what Bryten calls the "the man in the green truck."

Clovis garbage truck driver James Bennett waves at Lane and Bryten from his truck, greets Bryten with a warm smile and always asks how her weekend was.

Fortunately for Lane and Bryten one recent Tuesday, the familiar garbage truck driver arrived right on schedule and just in time to save Lane from nearly choking to death.

On Feb. 11, Lane and her daughter were eating breakfast about 8:30 a.m. Lane took all her vitamins at once, swallowed and continued eating her eggs. She took another gulp of juice and tried to swallow, but couldn't. She spit out her eggs, but that didn't help either.

"I realized I couldn't inhale, and sheer panic set in as I realized I was home alone," Lane wrote in a letter to the City of Clovis about the incident.

Just then, Bennett drove up in his garbage truck. As he looked over at the mother and daughter who were now on the front lawn, he noticed a panicked look on Bryten's face, and her mother was hunched over choking.

Bennett jumped out of his truck and performed the Heimlich maneuver on Lane. Though the pills weren't dislodged, her airway was cleared a bit and she could breathe. After gagging and throwing up, Lane burst into tears of gratitude.

"I saw someone choking and did what anyone should do," Bennett said. "I was just at the right place at the right time."

Bennett, who has been working for the city of Clovis for 13 years, said he learned how to do the Heimlich maneuver through training offered by the city.

Eric Zetz, the city's solid waste manager, said the training is optional and that Bennett went above and beyond his call of duty.

"It was a cool thing to be there for someone when someone needed to be there," Bennett said.

Lane said it gave her "total peace of mind that [Bennett] was there when no one else was."

Both Lane and Bennett attribute the rescue to Bryten. Lane said Bryten is the reason she knew Bennett, and Bennett said it was Bryten's concern that alerted him to the situation.

Since then, Lane and Bryten continue to wave to Bennett every Tuesday, and Bennett continues to say hello.

"He does more than just help choking people on his route," Lane wrote in her letter. "He spreads joy with his smile and gracious attitude."

Because of Lane's letter to the city, Bennett will be presented a plaque of honor at the Clovis City Council meeting Monday.


If you go


Clovis City Council,


Council Chambers, 1033 Fifth St., 6 p.m. Monday.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6679 or

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