Off-Duty Cop Who Saved Man From Choking Recalls Dramatic Rescue as They Reunite

News - Inside Edition Staff

It was a terrifying moment as a dad having dinner with his son began choking inside a New Jersey restaurant Sunday before he was rescued by an off-duty state trooper.  

Todd Hendricks and his son, Anthony, 6, were eating boneless chicken wings and watching a football game, when it happened. 

The father took a bite and the food went down the wrong pipe.

"I reached out for my drink and I swallowed again and I was like, 'That is not good,'" he recalled. "You can't breathe, real fast. It is scary, you are looking at your kid, you are choking, you are blacking out." 

His little boy didn't appear to know what was going on and continued eating, but the man sitting with his son at the next table noticed something was wrong and quickly hopped into action. 

The surveillance video from a Rockaway Township Buffalo Wild Wings shows Dennis Palaia, an off-duty New Jersey State Trooper, performing the Heimlich maneuver. 

"As soon as I heard the pound on the table, I heard the silverware shake and I turned around and looked back and saw that he was turning red," he recalled. 

Inside Edition reunited Palaia and Hendricks at the restaurant, where they embraced, clearly happy to see each other again.  

Palaia then gave a step by step breakdown on how to perform the Heimlich maneuver. 

The first step is to find the victim’s solar plexus, which is located above the belly button. Then, make a ball with one fist, cover it with your other hand, then get under it and push.

Palaia said the pushing and thrusting will help release the object lodged in the person’s throat and create an air space for oxygen. 

As a reward for his heroic deeds, the restaurant is giving the trooper free wings for a year.