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School honors 8-year-old hero after he saved his classmate from choking

'He was so proud and so excited. I think he definitely has a future in some sort of life-saving career,' said a music teacher at the school.

School honors 8-year-old hero after he saved his classmate from choking
Cover Image Source: YouTube/KOCO 5 News

A young hero who jumped to action when a classmate began choking during a recent lunchtime meal has been recognized for his heroic effort. Speaking to Good Morning America, Jordan Nguyen, a music teacher at Lakeview Elementary School in Norman, Oklahoma, recounted the unforgettable incident that unfolded in a matter of seconds. "It was chicken nugget day and the kids absolutely love it. But during that lunch, a teacher's and parent's worst nightmare happened," Nguyen said. Cashton York, a third grader at Lakeview, "took a bite and started choking," she revealed. "He couldn't breathe."


"Immediately, the boys around him stood up and started screaming for help from me, who was the adult in the room at the time," Nguyen said, adding that Cashton had been facing away from her. "I was on the other side of the cafeteria and when I heard them scream, I ran to the students. However, there was one student, Garrett, who went way above and beyond just shouting for help." Garrett Brown, who is also a third grader, immediately started performing the Heimlich maneuver on his classmate. "Instead of shouting, he jumped to the other side of the table, went behind Cashton, and did a couple of thrusts of the Heimlich maneuver, and it only took about two thrusts and he was able to dislodge the food," Nguyen recounted. "By the time I reached Cashton, the food had already dislodged and he was breathing again."

Speaking to ABC News Oklahoma City affiliate KOCO, Garrett revealed that he learned the Heimlich maneuver from his father. "When it was done, we all took a breath and thought, 'Did that just happen? Was that for real? Did this really just happen?' And we had to go back and watch the security footage just to be sure that 'Oh, that is what happened. Oh, my goodness,'" Nguyen recalled. "It was pretty mind-blowing."

A frightened Cashton was immediately taken to see their school nurse, who examined him and notified his parents. Although the boy was initially upset and crying, it was determined that he was "perfectly fine." About 15 minutes later, Cashton returned to the cafeteria to eat a new plate of chicken nuggets, Nguyen said.

Cashton's mother, Tiffany Smith, expressed gratitude to Garrett for springing into action when her son started choking. "That was extremely scary to know that in a matter of seconds, my child could have choked to death on food at school when you're not around," Smith said. "There's not enough words to be grateful for saving him." At a school assembly last Friday, Nguyen presented Garrett with a special "Hero Award" certificate on behalf of Lakeview Elementary for his timely actions. "We surprised Garrett. He did not realize that he was getting that award that day," she said. "The Norman fire department and police department came out to also congratulate him and it was funny, both departments told Garrett that they have a job lined up for him whenever he gets older... he was so proud and so excited. I think he definitely has a future in some sort of life-saving career."


In light of the incident, the staff at Lakeview plan to hold first aid courses for students at the school. "We're starting to do extra classes, life skills sort of things, and one of the classes that we plan to offer is a basic, kid-friendly first aid class," Nguyen said. "That way, if they are out somewhere or if they're home alone, or if they're home with their siblings and something does happen, they'll know what to do."

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