The Unknown Union Pacific Employee Who Saved My Life

by Stephanie Kendall

I was traveling through Wyoming when I was a small child, riding in the backseat of my mom's 1979 Lincoln Continental. My grandparents had died and my father was falling ill with cancer. We were heading to Idaho from Kansas. While we were driving, I had become very, very sick. Our family dog was even refusing to ride in the vehicle. I was having to stop often to deal with the sickness, but my mom thought it was just car/motion sickness and continued on.

Somewhere outside of Kemmerer, my mother and brother recalled hearing a strange noise coming from the backseat. I often slept in the vehicle and so they didn't think much of it., they were just relieved that I was getting rest. A few miles later, my mother attempted to wake me from what she thought was a deep sleep -- but in fact, I had stopped breathing.

My mother and brother were at a loss of what to do. This was the time before cell phones and if anyone knows Wyoming highways it is pretty desolate. My brother motioned to a truck driver that they passed, that there was an emergency. The trucker radioed ahead and let someone know of our condition. (which was later discovered to be carbon monoxide poisoning from a bad muffler).

My jaw had locked and my mother couldn't get my airway open. (keep in mind we were still traveling at highway speeds while all this was going on - not safe, but she feared stopping in the middle of nowhere).

To my mother's amazement just ahead on the highway she saw a group of workers. She pulled in quickly and motioned to the men that I was not breathing and she couldn't find a pulse. The men worked for UP and were repairing some railroad property.

Before my mom could put the vehicle in park, the men pulled me from the car and set me gently (or so my mom recalls) on a pile of their jackets, and one individual began to give me CPR (which he told my mother that he had just recently learned at work).

Obviously, I survived! But to this day I have often thanked that UP worker in my mind when I am able to hold my babies, kiss my husband, serve at my work and live in this wonderful United States! I wish I knew his name, about his life and had the opportunity to thank him. He knows who he is and what he did to save a little girl.

I live near a railroad line. It is about a 1/2 mile from my home. Every time I pass over the tracks, hear the whistle blow or see the engines stopped, I am grateful, for if it weren't for those UP workers, I would not be here today!

Thank you Union Pacific!


Stephanie K.

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Kemmerer, WY
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