Hernando school resource officer saves choking child

Hernando County

HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Hernando County Sheriff’s Deputy is being hailed as a hero after saving a young boy who was choking on his breakfast.

3-year old Jayton Thomas is a pre-kindergarten student at Eastside Elementary School just east of Brooksville.

On Tuesday, while eating breakfast, he got a piece of food lodged in his throat. His teacher tried getting it out, but couldn’t and ran for help. Deputy Christopher Downey was in the cafeteria and knew just what to do.

“You could see that he was not breathing. He was still conscious, but not breathing. He was trying to get the object out, but couldn’t,” said Deputy Downing. “I administered the Heimlich maneuver on him which got the object freed enough, you could hear him. He, ah, not giving all of his secrets, but one of the things when he is excited he makes a ‘hee’ sound. He made the ‘hee’ sound so we knew that now he was getting air. “

A school nurse checked Jayton out and called his mother Tonya who is now calling Deputy Downing a hero.

“Thank goodness for this man, if it wasn’t for people like him, how could you feel comfortable with your child who is nonverbal, who is autistic,” said Thomas, as tears flowed down her cheek. “Who is not able to ask for help or say that he has a problem or needs help?”

Deputy Downing says this is the first time he’s had to perform the Heimlich on someone.

“When I was stationed back at Ft. Hood in the early 1980s, I was given a medal for saving a soldier’s life in the dining facility who was choking in there,” said Downing. “So I’ve actually used these skills more than one time.”

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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