ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A cafeteria worker in St. Johns County is being called a hero after she saved the life of a student who was choking on a grape.
The school district on Tuesday presented Sylvia Suarez from Cunningham Creek Elementary School with the Superintendent’s Award for Heroic Action after she used the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge a grape that was stuck in the throat of a fourth-grade student at the school.
The scary moment happened during a recent lunch period. Witnesses said the student ran up to one of the other cafeteria workers who then ran into the kitchen with the student. That’s when Suarez came running out from behind the counter and performed the Heimlich maneuver, a popped the grape loose.
“There’s a lot of things that I don’t remember at the moment because everything happened too fast. So it was just his eyes looking at me like saying help. And I heard somebody scream ‘He’s not breathing!’ and when I heard that, I just jumped in,” Suarez, who is originally from Peru, told News4JAX.
The district said the student made a complete recovery and his parents are extremely grateful for the lifesaving actions taken.
With her family in attendance, Suarez received an ovation Monday morning during the board meeting.
“Seeing all these people clapping and being happy I feel so good. I feel very, very proud,” Suarez said.