Lindsey-Steiner fifth-grader saves fellow student

Alisa Boswell

Jesus Lavalle, a fifth grade elementary student at Lindsey-Steiner Elementary, may be an example of how heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

Lavalle, 10, was eating lunch in the school cafeteria Monday afternoon when another fifth grade student began to choke on a corn dog at the other side of the table.

Lavalle responded immediately performing the Heimlich Maneuver on the choking student, dislodging the large chunk of corn dog stuck in the boy’s throat and marking Lavalle as school hero.

“At first, I thought he was just choking as a joke,” Lavalle said. “ But when I realized he wasn’t, I went over there as fast as I could.”

Lavalle said he ran over to Mark, who was sitting two seats away and immediately began to hit him on the back to dislodge the food. When three hits to the back did not work, Lavalle immediately changed his tactics and began to perform the Heimlich Maneuver, dislodging the food immediately,

“I felt like it was gonna be my fault if I didn’t do something,” Lavalle said. “I feel proud cause I helped someone.”

Lavalle said he learned the Heimlich Maneuver from his sister after she took a class for it.

Mark, 10, whose last name school officials withheld, said his first thought when he began to choke was “Help me.” He grabbed his throat and began to struggle for air.

“I’m not going to try it again,” he said of taking large bites of his food. “I felt like I was not going to be able to breathe again.”

Mark said he was grateful to have Lavalle close by to respond so quickly to his dilemma. He said if not for Lavalle, he would have been in an ambulance on his way to the hospital.

“It would have been sad for the whole school,” Lavalle said. “I feel good that I could help.”

Brooke Cordova, librarian and a computer teacher for the school, said she was in the cafeteria at the time of the incident.

Cordova said school teachers and staff in the room responded within 30 seconds of the boy choking, but Lavalle was already there, performing the maneuver.

“I was really impressed that a fifth grader knew exactly what to do and did it right away without even thinking,” Cordova said. “We turned around and he was already there.”

Cordova said Lavalle throwing his chair back so he could run to the boy’s rescue was one of the first signs of danger.

“I’m really proud he reacted so quickly,” Cordova said. “I really think he’s a hero in our school.”

Rick Segovia, school principal, said Lavalle was recognized as a hero Tuesday in both his classroom and in the cafeteria.

“We are looking at it as he saved this kid’s life,” Segovia said. “There were adults only feet away, but the fact that Jesus jumped right in and reacted is very commendable.”

Segovia said the school is marking Friday as Jesus Lavalle day to further honor Lavalle for his heroic actions.