It appears that Christmas came early last year when Candace Pimentel received a surprise Christmas gift two weeks before the big day from an “angel in a pickup truck”. The young mother of two boys had just left church services in Gardendale, Alabama, and was heading home when her 9-year old son Raylen suddenly began choking while sipping his juice.
Pimentel immediately pulled over into the disabled lane and parked her car, while simultaneously attempting to render first aid to her son. Raylen had something lodged in his throat and was gasping for air.
Terrified and stricken with fear, Pimentel attempted to dislodge the foreign object that was blocking her son’s airway by attempting what she had seen demonstrated on TV, the Heimlich maneuver. However, after several attempts, the object was still stubbornly lodged within the youngster’s throat.
Realizing that her son was slipping into unconsciousness and losing oxygen to the brain, the distraught mom began waving erratically with one hand at passing motorists whizzing by, hoping someone would stop. Meanwhile, Candice attempted to soothe Raylen with the other hand.
Pimentel’s older son, Grayson, was also terrified, confused, and in shock, attempting to dial 911. However, every time he attempted to dial the three digit number, he would inadvertently reverse the numbers, instead dialing 119.
As the seconds ticked away, it appeared likely that young Raylen would soon die by the side of the road, just two weeks before Christmas. Out of nowhere, a pickup truck pulled behind Pimentel’s vehicle and a stranger got out, asking Pimentel if she needed help.
Pimentel immediately asked the stranger if he knew how to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Without hesitation, the stranger approached the stricken boy and quickly wrapped his clenched fist under the lads abdomen and forcefully pushed upward several times until the object (a piece of rock candy) popped out.
Raylen immediately took several gulps of air before breathing comfortably on his own. The stranger then smiled and hugged Raylen, telling the disoriented boy he loved him. The stranger turned to a still shaking Candice and hugged her, too, before getting back into his pickup truck and leaving.
After the incident, Pimentel and her two boys were interviewed by local affiliate WVTM 13. She believes that God sent an angel in a pickup truck tasked with saving her son’s life. She also believes that God has a purpose for her son on earth.
Candice said, “Between pulling off the road, attempts to dislodge the object, yelling for my other son to call 911, flagging people down, my heart was breaking, then Heavenly Father sent me an angel in a pickup truck.”
“Although I don’t know his name, I do feel like we had a proper thanking and embrace,” she told McClatchy News.
“If our paths cross in the future, I would hug him and thank him again. But if not, I will forever be grateful for that stranger and for Heavenly Father sending him. … And yes, no more hard candy.”
Pimentel also encouraged everyone to “be an angel to somebody”. It may not be as big as a life-saving act like what the stranger did for them, but a “smile from a stranger goes a long way”.