5-year-old Georgia boy alive thanks to heroic actions of state trooper

MARIETTA, Ga. — Just days after an Indiana state trooper saved a 5-year-old Georgia boy's life when he started choking on a family trip, the boy's family is telling the story behind the scary ordeal.

On Thursday, Maddox Gates, of Marietta, started choking in his family's minivan on a rural stretch of highway near Perrysburg, Indiana. The family had been on vacation in Michigan and was on the way home.

Trooper Ben Reasons was headed home when he got the call about an unconscious boy. He rushed to the scene and was able to do the Heimlich maneuver and save Maddox's life.

On Saturday, Channel 2's Michael Seiden sat down with the Gates family, including 5-year-old Maddox, to talk about what happened that day.

“Maddox had fallen asleep and then looked back, and he had kind of made a noise, like a choking noise, like he was going to throw up," mom Jill Gates told Seiden.

Jill Gates said she tried to give her son a bag, but he got sick on himself.

"And then I was calling his name, and he wasn't responding to me. His eyes were kind of over to the side and glazed a little bit," Julie Gates said.

Maddox's dad didn't waste any time and pulled off the road so the family could call 911. But the family was in the middle of nowhere.


Brad Gates, Maddox's dad, was terrified.

"To see your child like that, and I almost feel helpless to the extent that he's not responding and you don't know what the cause is," he said.

That's when the family says State Trooper Ben Reasons seemed to appear out of nowhere.

"We had these angels watching over us," Jill Gates said.

Reasons was headed home from work when he heard the frantic call. He stopped to help the family and gave Maddox the Heimlich maneuver. Maddox regained consciousness.

After spending several hours at a local hospital, doctors cleared him to go home.

Maddox is now back in Georgia with his family after surviving the terrifying experience.

"We can't thank (Reasons) enough for stopping and doing what he did," Jill Gates said.

Maddox's parents think he may have had a seizure, which caused him to choke.

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