Choking Baby at Restaurant Saved by Stranger With Lifevac Device

Diners rushed to help the distressed family, but the Heimlich maneuver didn’t work. That's when a man dining at the restaurant calmly retrieved the Lifevac device from his car and used it to save the baby's life.

It was a scary moment at a South Carolina restaurant, when a 10-month-old baby started choking on a piece of pancake.

“We kind of hit him on the back, thought OK, he’s got this, he’s gonna get it down,” the baby’s mom, Jayne Koehler, said. The entire incident was captured on surveillance camera.

But Jayne and her husband, Jon, quickly realized how serious it was.

“He was turning blue, and it happened really fast. You can see on the video where I turn him over. And at that point, he looked really bad. I thought, ‘OK, this is not good,’ and that’s when I yelled for help,” Jayne said.

Diners rushed to help the distressed family, but the Heimlich maneuver didn’t work. 

“I thought he was going to die,” Jayne said.

Salvation came in the form of a man named Major Hillard, who immediately got up and retrieved a device called a Lifevac from his car. 

“I could hear immediately in her voice, it was not a good situation,” Hillard said.

Hillard used the Lifevac to try to suction the obstruction from little Gabriel’s mouth. After several plunges of the device, Gabriel was miraculously breathing again.

“As soon as I did that last pull, his eyes popped open, and he started gasping for air,” Hillard said.

Inside Edition was there as the Koehlers reunited with the man who saved their child’s life.

The Lifevac is a portable airway-clearing device. Arthur Lih, the founder and CEO of Lifevac, put a piece of pancake in a dummy’s mouth to demonstrate how it works.

Hillard had the device in his car for almost five years and had never needed it before. The makers of Lifevac say that even with their product, they still encourage people to learn the Heimlich maneuver and CPR.

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