5th-grader saves fellow student, hailed as hero

Kelly Elementary student uses Heimlich Maneuver to save classmate


SAN ANTONIO - This week is “Super Heroes” week at George E. Kelly Elementary, and one particular 5th-grader showed she really is one after saving a fellow student who was choking on his lunch in the school cafeteria. 

Star Hernandez says she once saw the Heimlich Maneuver used in a movie, and even though she’s never learned how it works, she used it well enough to rescue her classmate last Thursday.

“So I went and I pulled and it, like, came up so he could chew it," she said as she demonstrated her technique.

Principal Debra Siller said of the save, “Sometimes kids don't know any better. ... Sometimes they just do what they need to do. She reacted very calmly and we couldn’t be more proud of Star.”

Witnesses say that it began when fellow classmate Davie Fuentes began to choke on a piece of potato at the table.

While his friends began to get alarmed by his struggle, Star jumped up, walked over, put her arms around him and squeezed his chest.

The food dislodged and he chewed it and swallowed it.

"Crisis averted," said Siller. “She may not have had the exact technique but what she did worked well enough to help David.”

After being checked out by a nurse, his parents were called and Star was named a “Kelly Hero” for her quick actions.

“I told her, 'Thank you for doing that. I could have choked to death,'” said Fuentes, who promised to be more careful chewing food at the kitchen table.

The P.E. teacher who witnessed the rescue is investigating how to introduce the Heimlich to her Health classes now.

For a list of recent stories Ursula Pari has done, click here.


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