Livonia teacher saves student choking on water bottle cap

Fellow student, English teacher spring into action to save 10th-grader

By Priya Mann - Reporter, Derick Hutchinson

LIVONIA, Mich. - A Churchill High School student in Livonia was saved Thursday by a teacher who noticed the student was choking on a water bottle cap.

The teenager is OK thanks to the quick actions of the teacher.

Thursday started as a typical day for the 10th-grade English class, as students were reading "The Great Gatsby." But then a student stood up and started gasping for air.

"He got up and he went to the door and started gagging," student Matthew Vettraino said. "He was just running, and he just looked, like, really shocked. So then I got up and performed the Heimlich."

The culprit was the cap of a plastic water bottle.

"I think he was chewing on it," Vettraino said. "He said he inhaled it."

Vettraino said he couldn't get the cap to come back up.

"I think I got really nervous and I wasn't doing it as hard as I was doing it at the beginning," Vettraino said. "Because I actually knew he was choking at that point, so I think I was just really nervous."

That's when their English teacher, Rod Windle, stepped in.

"I have been trained in CPR before and noticed he was doing it right," Windle said. "He was, like, 'I think this might work.' It wasn't working as well as it needed to so I kind of moved in and gave that student some help."

Using the Heimlich maneuver, Windle was able to save the student from choking.

"It's something that can save lives," Windle said. "I haven't had it happen in my classroom in the 24 years I've been in class. If you're ready to help people out, it benefits others."

Vettraino said he learned the Heimlich maneuver in seventh grade.

"I think everyone should know how to do the Heimlich maneuver and you should learn how to prevent people from choking and know what to do if someone is choking," Vettraino said.

"I was like, 'You go!'" Windle said. "I was so proud of him to jump into action and really help out. The fact that he stood up for his friend like that is really awesome."

The student who was choking on the water bottle cap was back in school Friday, but didn't want to talk on camera.

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