Cop stops woman for allegedly using cell phone, ends up saving her life

Technically Incorrect: A cop believes a driver is talking on her phone. When he pulls her over, she's clutching her throat because she's choking on food.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

A cop performs the Heimlich maneuver. Austin Police Department screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There are enough YouTube videos of police officers behaving in a questionable manner. (Or perhaps there are never quite enough.)

This, though, is the video of a quick-thinking Texas cop who likely saved a woman's life.

Captured by his dashcam, the video from July 5 shows Austin Police Officer Dustin Clinkscales stopping a driver on a highway. As KVUE-TV reports, he suspected the female driver of talking on her cell phone while driving.

The video, released Monday by the Austin Police Department, shows Clinkscales pull up behind the woman. She begins to open the door of her car. At this moment, a cop might have suspected anything: A raging motorist or even a raging motorist with a gun.

Instead, what he found was that the woman wasn't initially talking on her cell phone. She was clutching her throat. She was choking on a biscuit.

He first slapped her back. When that didn't work, it was time for the Heimlich maneuver. After a few heaves, the unnamed woman finally coughed up the biscuit.

MyFox Austin reported that she had tried to call 911, but couldn't speak.

KVUE quoted Austin Travis County EMS Capt. Holly Craghead as saying: "Had it not been for the quick and exact actions of Officer Clinkscales, the patient would have most certainly had a negative outcome."

There's another aspect to this story, though, that bears consideration. Talking on your cell phone while driving is legal in most of Texas.

At the beginning of this year, San Antonio and Austin issued new ordinances that made cell phone use while driving or cycling subject to sanction. In Austin, the fine is $500.

I have contacted the Austin Police Department for confirmation that the woman was stopped under that new ordinance and will update, should I hear.

The woman, whose father is reportedly an Austin police officer, recovered and is extremely grateful for Clinkscales' actions. She might be grateful to whoever got that law passed, too.