Fortunately for Office Tyler York, he picked the right place to eat earlier this week. The Paris Coffee Shop was his choice for a last-minute lunch break on Tuesday and it was just his luck. The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch and closes at 2:30 p.m.
A five year veteran of the Fort Worth Police Department, York, 31, ordered the Tuesday Special – beef tips with steamed rice and a side order of mashed potatoes. The menu was carefully selected because he is still recovering from the loss of several teeth earlier this year in a softball mishap.
After just a few bites, the officer began choking. He knew he was choking and he couldn’t breathe. Panic set in and he fought for about 45 seconds when Mike Smith, the owner of the Fort Worth institution for the last 48 years, stepped in.
Smith realized the customer was in trouble and moved quickly to his aid. Another employee, the only other person to act in a restaurant which had two dozen customers at the time of the incident, tried unsuccessfully to employ the Heimlich maneuver. Smith took a turn at it and was successful. He said he was afraid his own size might break the officer’s ribs but he knew clearing his airways was more important than a few broken ribs. The restaurateur has only seen two other choking instances in his nearly half-century at the shop.
Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead presented Smith with a plaque, thanking him for his life-saving actions in front of a lunch crowd on Friday. The chief called Mike a hero and that was met with a round of applause from patrons of the shop, situated on the corner of Hemphill Street and West Magnolia Avenue.
Smith was both pleased and surprised by the honor.
York couldn’t be more grateful. He believes Smith went above and beyond the call of duty when no one did and he is now a customer for life…literally.