School worker saves choking Tinley Park teacher Tyler Teaney

December 5, 2013 (TINLEY PARK, Ill.)

The moment captured by a school surveillance camera is still hard to believe for teacher Tyler Teaney.

"I have my moments where I kind of play it back in my mind. And it just really hasn't sunk in," said Teaney.

It was Monday in this room when Teaney began choking on his lunch. He walked into the hall to get some water from this fountain, but that only made things worse.

"It kind of dislodged and went into my windpipe, so when I came up I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't breathe, so I just started walking," said Teaney.

At that moment, maintenance engineer Jim Smith was also in the hallway, fixing a jammed locker.

In the video he's seen on the right, and on the left, Teaney is seen leaning into another set of lockers-- apparently starting to lose consciousness.

"I heard him come up. I heard him hit the locker, and then the light went on and said something's wrong," said Smith.

Smith acted quickly, performing the Heimlich maneuver on Teaney. The food came right up.

"I got around him. I looked at him, and once I seen he was able to breathe, that was a bingo. I did my job," said Smith.

Soon, others arrived in the hallway. Teaney was alright, and ten minutes later, he was back in the classroom.

ABC7's Eric Horng asks: "Do you think Jim is a hero?"
"Absolutely. Forget these NBA basketball players, no offense. This is the real hero," said Teaney.

Horng: "You guys lunch buddies now?"
Teaney: "I do follow him around and eat near him for safety purposes."
Horng: "You make sure he's chewing his food?"
Smith: "He's all good. He's doing fine."

Smith was hired by Tinley Park High School just three months ago as a maintenance engineer, and prior to the incident the two men had never met. They've become fast friends.

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