Chick-fil-A worker saves choking 3-year-old: ‘My instincts just kicked in’
NEWNAN, Ga. (WXIA) - An 18-year-old Chick-fil-A employee is being hailed a hero after she jumped into action to save a little girl choking on a coin.
Liliana Leahy was on her way to Walmart on Monday with her 3-year-old daughter, Theia, in the back seat when her motherly instinct told her to stop at a Chick-fil-A in Newnan, Georgia.
“Something tells me, ‘Go make a turn,’… so I did that turn,” Leahy said.
The unexpected pit stop turned out to be a life-saving decision.
Leahy heard Theia make a weird choking sound as they went through the drive-thru. The 3-year-old motioned that something was stuck in her throat, and her mother panicked, screaming for help.
“I started screaming. It’s like, ‘Hey, help me. Somebody help me. My daughter is choking.’ I just panicked, so I just was like asking for help. I was really, really scared for her, honestly,” Leahy said.
Mia Isabela Velez, an 18-year-old Chick-fil-A team member working the drive-thru line, dropped everything and ran to help Theia.
“My instincts just kicked in. I dropped my iPad, and I just started running directly to her,” Velez said.
The 18-year-old pulled Theia into her arms and performed the Heimlich maneuver. After three thrusts, a coin flew out of the 3-year-old’s mouth.
“That thing was humongous. I had seen it in the moment… but seeing it now, I forgot that’s what came out of her mouth,” Velez said.
Theia asked for ice cream immediately after the incident, her mom said, and Velez got her some. The family is grateful that the 18-year-old, who moved from California just two months ago, was at the right place at the right time.
“It’s surreal when you hear that you saved her life. You don’t expect to get that title. It’s a lesson for all of us to learn that you can be that light to somebody else, and I’m so glad that I got to be the one for that family,” Velez said.
Leahy calls the whole incident a miracle, as she hadn’t planned to stop for lunch at Chick-fil-A, and she said she’s glad she made that life-saving turn.
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