Boy saves best friend’s life after he started choking during lunch

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NORWALK, Ohio — School surveillance cameras captured the moment a 13-year-old boy saved his friend who was choking during lunch in Ohio, according to PIX11 sister station WJW.

Kaden Mancilla and Eban McKenzie describe themselves as best friends. The two middle school students are frequently together, as they were during their lunchtime last week.

"Pretty much I was just making jokes... Everyone was laughing," McKenzie said.

Mancilla said he was laughing and eating a carrot.

"I tried to swallow and it just got caught in my throat," Mancilla said.

Although he never had any formal training, McKenzie said he instantly knew he needed to do something.

"He had his hand over his throat just coughing and coughing," McKenzie said. "Everybody has the general sense of knowing what to do, but I didn't really know how to properly actually do it, but I tried the best I could."

Cafeteria surveillance camera video shows McKenzie quickly get up from his seat, go behind his friend and perform the Heimlich maneuver.

"It kind of just happened. I didn't panic. I just thought, 'Well, he's choking,' and got up and just did it," he told WJW.

Mancilla said the carrot was forced out of his airway and back into his mouth, where he finished chewing it.

"After he did that, I felt like he became my best friend," Mancilla said.

The episode caught the attention of teachers who, at first, chalked up what they were seeing to horseplay.

"My first inclination was that there might have been horseplay going on. Because, you know, with seventh-grade students, you don't know what's going on. And when you see it, you see him talking to him and he jumps over and does the Heimlich and talks to him afterwards. You can tell it wasn't horseplay," Principal Gary Swartz said.

Despite possibly saving the life of his friend and classmate, McKenzie said he isn't a hero.

"I wouldn't say I was a hero. I just, I saved my friend," he said.