Students praised for saving choking victims in separate incidents

At Lourdes Academy, a private, Catholic school located in Daytona Beach, students learn about faith and God. Within the last week, two students were hailed as heroes after saving the lives of two different people at the school.

It all started last Friday and it was recorded on school surveillance cameras. You can see 8th-grader Jonathan Puerto running to rescue his friend who was choking on a popsicle stick in the lunchroom.

"I’m not gonna lie, I was pounding him really hard, because I was really nervous in the moment."

Within seconds, the stick shoots out of his friend’s mouth.

"I felt relieved but in shock and nervous at the time. My heart was beating off the charts."

Days later, after-school coordinator Dawn Ritchie thought her own heart would stop beating after she started choking while having a snack.

"All of a sudden, a piece of chip became lodged, and I was reaching out and patting my chest and Antonio snapped into action."  

She is talking about 8th-grader Antonio Wilson.

"I kept doing the Heimlich till she stopped coughing. She started crying and told me 'Thank you!' and I was a life saver." 

Antonio said over the summer his mother had a similar incident, but luckily survived.

"I didn’t know what to do, and after that, she taught me how to do the Heimlich in case something like that happened again."

So Dawn thanked both Antonio and his mother for performing the Heimlich maneuver.

"I thanked her so much from the bottom of my heart because she in turn saved my life by teaching him that."

Both Antonio and Jonathan said all kids need to be prepared.

"That is a very important thing to learn because you never know when you’ll be in another situation like this," Jonathan added.

So at this Catholic School, after a very odd sequence of events, there was a hands-on lesson in life as well as faith.