Man saved from choking at Ann Arbor Coney Island

Published On: Sep 24 2012 06:16:28 PM EDT
Updated On: Sep 24 2012 07:04:41 PM EDT

Perfect strangers stepped in to become perfect heroes.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -

A casual dining experience turned into an emergency rescue when a man began to choke this past Friday at Mark's Midtown Coney Island on Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor.

Cashier Amanda Colwell was the first to act, after witnessing the man choking in front of his adult daughter.

"He started shaking while he was trying to cough it out," said Colwell. "And then he slumped over and she said, 'call 9-11!'"

When Colwell called to her boss for help, a customer in the next booth stepped in. They say that man said he had some experience as a volunteer firefighter, but only gave his first name, George.

"He got up and helped me lift him, " said restaurant co-owner Mark June.

The restaurateur says that's when George began performing the Heimlich maneuver.

Then, Matt Schaecher, a Detroit firefighter and animal cruelty investigator with the Humane Society of Huron Valley, entered the restaurant and joined the effort.

Schaecher says he immediately helped lower the man to the floor.

"At that time," says Schaecher, "His face was blue and we started CPR."

As other customers also came forward to help, Amanda Colwell says the scene became very emotional, especially for the victim's daughter.

"At one point," says Colwell, "she just kind of cried out and started crying and that is when I kind of broke down a bit myself."

More customers, including two nurses, stepped up to help the man, who eventually started breathing again and was taken away by a Huron Valley Ambulance.

Ultimately, everyone involved has touched by how strangers, especially George, rose to the occasion.

"In this case, there was a group of people that had all stepped up, which is nice to see," said Schaecher.

June was impressed with George's work.

"I honestly believe George would have performed surgery on the man if he thought it was necessary."

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