A 6-year-old girl in Sacramento saved her best friend’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver earlier this week, something she learned from watching a Disney Channel TV show.
First graders Elspeth “Beanie” Mar, Aniyah Rigmaiden and Anthony Roy Jr. were enjoying their routine lunch together on Tuesday in Caroline Wenzel Elementary School’s cafeteria.
“I was chewing on a hard apple, and I couldn’t swallow it,” Aniyah (above right) told ABC News. “It went down my throat and got suck.”
Anthony noticed Aniyah gasping for air and screamed for help.
“He was yelling, ‘Aniyah’s choking, Aniyah’s choking!’ He heard me coughing and my face was red,” she said.
With that, Aniyah’s best friend Beanie immediately went into action and got up to help. She performed the Heimlich and the apple flew onto the table.
“She was choking and then I helped her,” Beanie told ABC News. “I asked if I saved her life and she said, Yeah, you did.”
Beanie quietly returned to her lunch. Principal Judy Montgomery said even though there were administrators present, no one knew what had happened until the girls returned to class.
“It was done very quietly,” Montgomery told ABC News. “The young boy sitting across noticed she was choking and said, Aniyah’s choking! Aniyah’s choking! So Beanie just got up, went over and did it, and went and sat down and finished her lunch. To us it’s incredible, to her it was the right thing to do.”
Montgomery notified both parents over the phone hours after it happened and later rewarded the three kids with certificates for their heroic acts. When Beanie’s mother, Amy Peterson-Mar, first heard the news over the phone she started crying.
“When they said she saved a kid’s life, I let out a gasp. I started crying because I couldn’t believe it,” Peterson-Mar told ABC News. “That kid is breathing now because of my child.”
When Aniyah’s mother, Crisa Triplett, heard Beanie saved her child’s life, she too was in tears.
“When she told me the news how Beanie saved her, I was just in tears. That little girl is so remarkable and she will forever hold the biggest spot in my heart,” Triplett told ABC News. “I couldn’t express to her mother how thankful I was for her daughter and raising a little girl like that.”
However, the question remains, how exactly did a 6-year-old know how to do the Heimlich?
“I saw it on A.N.T. Farm,” Beanie said. “I asked my mom, Can people really do that? And she said, Yeah.”
Montgomery said even though it’s shocking to see a first grader step up in a time of panic, we shouldn’t underestimate the capabilities of children.
“She did it because it was the right thing to do,” Montgomery told ABC News. “It’s really important we understand how resilient children are. The fact that she did it and then sat down shows she did it without expectation of notice.”