7th grader saves choking classmate's life

September 8, 2011 2:26:28 PM PDT
A Romeoville 7th grader is being called a hero after saving a choking classmate during lunch.

At Martinez Middle School, a special friendship is unfolding.

"It was one of those things when you just click. Me and him were instantly friends at the beginning of the year," said Trey Harbert.

Everyday, 7th graders Trey Harbert and Emmanuel Marte sit next to each other during lunch. On Tuesday, Emmanuel was chomping on a chicken sandwich.

"He just tapped me on the shoulder and gave me the choke sign," said Trey.

"It was right here stuck in my throat," said Emmanuel.

Trey alerted a lunch aid, who ran to get the dean's attention.

"I couldn't breathe. I couldn't talk. I couldn't do anything," said Emmanuel.

So Trey took over.

"I saw his face turning purple, and I knew that was one of the signs before you're going to go unconscious. And so, I knew what I had to do. So I just collected my thoughts and just did it," said Trey.

"He did the Heimlich maneuver. I was feeling a little okay. It was right here, the food," said Emmanuel.

"I was calm and collected on the outside. But on the inside, I couldn't even hear myself think. It was just instinct at that point," said Trey.

Moments later, Dean Matthew Mamak stepped in.

"The dean came, he did the Heimlich maneuver and I swallowed it," said Emmanuel.

"The other student was a hero. He got him going. I felt for safe measure, it couldn't hurt to give him one more Heimlich thrust," said Mamak.

"As soon as I see the dean come over and pat him on the back and he starts coughing again, a huge weight is lifted off my back," said Trey.

As they munch on lunch Thursday, there will be no more chicken on Emmanuel's menu.

"I'll keep with the hamburgers, everything, but not chicken, not today, not tomorrow," said Emmanuel.

Trey says he hopes to stay humble.

"Of course I'm happy, but I'm not going to let it go to my head and be like, 'yeah, you guys, you guys aren't as cool as me, I saved someone's life, this is what you can do. This is what you can do.' I think of myself as an example to my little brother and sister," said Trey.

An example, after one helpful act.

"I'm like, thanks Trey, you're a hero. You saved me," said Emmanuel.

A hero, and a true friend.

Trey says he learned to do the Heimlich maneuver in fifth grade health class.

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