Woman claims toll worker charged brother during his heart attack

COWETA, Okla. - A Florida woman is accusing an Oklahoma turnpike worker of ignoring her brother's pleas for help as he experienced a heart attack, but the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is defending its employee. 

Judy Kemp says she was riding along with her brother, John Steuerle, in his semi-truck when he began sweating and complaining of numbness in his hands and arms. 

Kemp says the pair made it to a Coweta toll booth and they were stunned by their reception.

"We asked the lady where the nearest hospital was ... (Steuerle) said 'We're not going to make it. We need an ambulance'," Kemp said. "She told us it'd be $5.50." 

Kemp says she remembers the worker asking for payment three separate times as cars honked behind them. Eventually, Kemp says she paid the toll, and the woman called an ambulance soon thereafter.

"I was mad as hell," she said. " ... If this is the way Oklahoma is going to be treating people that come through here, I don't think anybody should come here." 

A shocking story, but OTA officials dispute Kemp's version of events.

Tim Stewart, with the OTA, says the booth worker did initially collect the toll, but called 911 as soon as she realized something was wrong. He also says the woman gave the money back.

The authority says turnpike surveillance backs up their claim, despite traffic noise drowning out parts of the exchange. They also aren't willing to hand over the video.

2NEWS contacted a state lawmaker, who has pledged to look into the matter. As for Steuerle, Kemp says while he's still in the hospital, he's now out of intensive care. 

Print this article Back to Top