Retired NYPD officer Hector Almodovar rescues suffocated fifth grader at Balmville Elementary School

BALMVILLE, NY — A former NYPD officer saved the day at an Orange County school, taking quick action when a student began choking during lunchtime.

CBS2’s Tony Aiello spoke with the fifth grader and his new hero.

Ten-year-old Ariana Miranda is grateful to have survived a frightening situation.

“I wouldn’t say I panicked. I would say I was pretty calm in that situation,” Ariana said.

The situation unfolded last week at lunchtime when Ariana took a big bite out of an orange, which quickly lodged in her throat.

“I thought I could remove it myself, but it turns out you can’t when something’s big. So you need some help,” she said.

Hector Almodovar, a retired NYPD officer who works security at Balmville Elementary School, was watching the children during lunch.

“I heard the other guard yelling, ‘Are you okay? Are you okay?'” Almodovar said.

When Ariana started choking, Almodovar’s training began.

“He liked the… what’s it called again? It’s like the little thing,” Ariana said.

“The Heimlich maneuver,” Aiello said.

“Yeah, Heimlich maneuver,” Ariana said.

“Navel, and pull up and hope it works out,” Almodovar said. “I didn’t have time. I ran up to her and just did the Heimlich. It took about two push-ups and she just said, ‘It’s out, it’s out.'”

Almodovar rushed Ariana to the school nurse, who called her parents. There was relief all around that she was fine thanks to the Almodovar’s quick thinking.

“I felt good. I’m glad I was there for her to help. It could have been worse and thank God it didn’t get worse,” Almodovar said.

“I’m grateful because he’s in my life and he was able to save me in that moment. If he hadn’t been there, the story would have taken a different place,” Ariana said.

Aiello asked him, “Do you think you want to learn how to do the Heimlich maneuver?”

“Yeah, I do it for every occasion I might get in on the action,” Ariana said.

The Newburgh Enlarged City School District said it was proud of Almodovar. The district offers annual first aid refresher courses for all of its safety instructors.


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