GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gary Hand had a chronic cough. While driving down 28th Street in Gulfport two months ago, he popped a cough drop in his mouth.
The lozenge became stuck in his throat; almost costing him his life.
"I tried to clear my throat," he said. "A lot of times it'll clear, but it would not clear and I realized I was in trouble. Once I knew it was lodged and I couldn't get any air to pass, the thought came to mind, 'This is where you're going to die today.'"
He immediately hit the brakes and put the car in park in the middle of the road.
"There was traffic behind me, there's traffic coming at me," Hand said.
He jumped out of his car, walked toward the back, and gestured to anyone who was looking that he was choking to death. Then, a man in a pickup truck ran up to his car.
"When I got about 5-feet, I turned, held my arms out and he then came right out and put his arms around me and performed the Heimlich maneuver," said Hand.
As a volunteer hospice chaplain, Hand works with people near death all the time. When it happened to him, it gave him a whole new appreciation for what he does.
"I deal with it every day but when it comes to your door, it does cause you to start thinking, you know, are you living your life to the fullest, and I have done that," he said.
Hand has been in contact with the man who saved his life. He was able to give him a proper thank you.