Leon was forced to act quickly.
“I could see him struggling to breathe,” said Leon. “He put his hand over his throat and that’s when I performed the Heimlich maneuver. I began to thrust him toward me. The first two times it did not work. It was very scary. I could see his lips change colors.”
By the fourth thrust, Leon said, “I looked up and asked for God’s help and said ‘Please save him.’ Soon after, the cap came out.”
Immediately after the incident, Leon said her first reaction was “to thank God. I then hugged Jayven. He was sobbing uncontrollably. I kept reassuring him he’d be okay.”
Leon, who has taught in New Britain for 20 years, including the last 12 at DiLoreto, said Oct. 9 was the first time she ever had to use the Heimlich maneuver. DiLoreto teachers watch a video every year dealing with safety issues, including choking.
“Even though I never had to perform it, it [the video] stuck with me,” Leon said Tuesday. “I knew what I had to do.”
Leon said the incident will live with her forever.
Soon after, she said, “I played the moment over and over again in my mind. It was a traumatic experience. I’m so happy I was able to save a child’s live, but a lot of thoughts were going through my mind. What if I was absent that day? What if the outcome was different? If it was different, I would not be able to live with myself.”
Jayven said, “I forgot the cap was there. I choked and then Ms. Leon helped me. I want to say thank you. I was very scared.”
DiLoreto Principal Alejandro Ortiz Tuesday called Leon “our DiLoreto hero. If it wasn’t for her quick response, the story would have been different.”
On Monday, Ortiz, Leon and Jayven’s parents attended the Board of Education’s regular meeting, where Leon received a certificate from the board for “going above and beyond” as a teacher. She also received a bouquet of flowers from Jayven’s parents.
Due to the choking episode, Ortiz said, “I’d like to see potentially more CPR training for the staff. The district offers it, but it’s not mandatory.”
This article first appeared in the New Britain Herald is a media partner of CTLatinoNews.com. For more news from central Connecticut, please visit centralctcommunications.com.