A Nebraska man who was rushed the hospital on New Year’s Eve after choking on a piece of food has died after spending days on life support following the incident, officials said.
Brian O’Neill was out with his wife and friends at an Omaha restaurant celebrating the holiday when he choked on piece of meat minutes before midnight, KETV reported at the time.
A doctor sitting next to O’Neill, 51, reportedly used the Heimlich maneuver in an effort to save him, but when that and the efforts of four other friends failed, the doctor performed an emergency tracheotomy using a knife.
Loved ones reportedly said the tracheotomy did not cause further damage to O’Neill, as the meat was lodged deep in his chest.
Surrounded by his wife of 25 years, Joan, and their 20-year-old twin sons, Patrick and Ryan, O’Neill was pronounced dead at Nebraska Medicine-Nebraska Medical Center at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, family said in a statement.
"The 51-year-old was a devoted husband, father and friend who loved sports, the color blue, volunteering as a youth basketball and baseball coach, helping at church and spending time with family and friends,” the statement said. “He was described as a fun-loving guy who always made you feel important — and never left anyone out.”
His family thanked the community for their support and prayers, especially from the St. Robert Bellarmine Parish and Skutt Catholic High School, adding: “They’re hopeful the community can learn from this tragic accident and that it can be prevented from happening to someone else."