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Custodian at elementary school in Auburn Hills saves choking student

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – A custodian at an elementary school in Auburn Hills is being called a hero after saving the life of a boy who was choking during lunch.

On Sept. 18, Woodland Principal Arryn Schneider said fourth-grader OcTave Lawrence began choking on a nacho chip.

Custodian Russ Palen heard another student's cry for help and jumped into action.

"Russ saw a student with a look of panic on his face and the student was in fact choking," Schneider said. "Russ immediately went over to the student and performed the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged the nacho chip the student was choking on. Thankfully, the student was OK -- just a little scared -- and was able to continue his day."

Schneider said Palen's duties include helping students in the cafeteria and cleaning up during lunch.

"We've always known Russ cares about all of our students, and that day, Russ was a hero," Schneider said.

Lawrence's parents are also grateful.

"I'm a registered nurse, so I know what could've happened if the quick efforts from the staff went lacking," said Lawrence's mother, LaTosha. "My family and I are forever grateful to the Woodland staff member, Mr. Russ."