BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A South Mississippi junior high teacher's quick thinking helped save a student's life.
"All of a sudden, I couldn't breathe over here. I was nervous and sweating," said Leroy Johnson.
Leroy remembers every frightening detail of what happened Tuesday at Biloxi Junior High. The sixth grader was eating nachos in the school cafeteria when he started choking on a chip. One thought ran through his mind — he may not live if he didn't get help.
"I heard someone in the cafeteria say 'Someone do something!' and when I looked over, it was clear that he could not breathe. He was standing and he had a panicked look on his face," said Biloxi Jr. High sixth grade teacher Cynthia Andrews.
Andrews rushed over and performed the Heimlich maneuver on Leroy. She says it took several tries before the food was dislodged.
"It was hard, but when she finally got it out, I was so happy," said Leroy. "The next day, me and my mom had gave her some GermX from Bath and Body Works."
The pair had never met until the encounter in the cafeteria, but have since reunited.
"It was great, because I didn't recognize him, because he looked much different, not in a panicked state. He said, 'Thank you for doing the Heimlich maneuver on me' and I was like, 'Oh, that was you?'"
Andrews knows the Heimlich Maneuver well. She taught the procedure for 17 years as part of the school's vocational program.
"I've even had some of my older students come and tell me, 'Remember the Heimlich maneuver that you taught me? I had to do it on a brother or a sister or a relative,'" said Andrews.
But in her 26 years of teaching, Andrews had never put the experience to use until that day in the cafeteria. While she's credited with saving Leroy's life, she doesn't consider herself a hero.
"It feels great, it was nice that I can do something. I think anybody else would have done the same thing if they knew the procedure," said Andrews.
Andrews encourages everyone to learn the Heimlich maneuver. You never know when it may come in handy.