LEICESTER, Mass. — Amelia LoVerme said she didn’t really have a special bond with her twin brother, Charlie. But the 12-year-olds have one now after Amelia saved Charlie’s life.
Earlier this month, Charlie and Amelia were both having lunch at Leicester Middle School, where they are in the sixth grade. Charlie was dining on something called a ‘cheese bite’ -- a pizza-like concoction featuring dough stuffed with cheese.
“It was like mozzarella cheese,” Charlie said. “So it was really stringy and hot.”
That wouldn’t be a problem, except for one thing: the twins both have braces. Charlie said the stringy cheese got caught in his back braces, effectively suspending the rest of the cheese bite in his throat.
“So I was sitting there and I stood up and signaled that I was choking,” he said.
Charlie’s dilemma can be seen on surveillance video from the school cafeteria. It also shows one of the friends he was sitting with sliding away from the table.
“They thought I was going to throw up,” said Charlie.
Of course, because he was choking, Charlie couldn’t tell his friends the real problem. He said he tried not to panic, but it wasn’t easy.
“And I just started gasping for air and someone yelled, he’s turning purple,” Charlie said.
One of those who noticed the change in Charlie’s complexion -- Amelia, who was sitting at the next table with her friends.
“I saw that his face was turning a different color,” she said. “So he wasn’t going to throw up. He was choking.”
The surveillance video shows Amelia springing up and wrapping her arms around Charlie’s abdomen -- and then performing the Heimlich maneuver, something she learned from her parents but had never done on anyone before. The Heimlich, also known as Abdominal thrust, forces air upwards, allowing for expulsion of objects caught in the throat.
“A bunch of feelings were going through my body, but I wasn’t really thinking,” Amelia said. “I just needed to help him.”
And she did. It took three or four thrusts before Charlie expelled the chunk of cheese bite. He said it landed on a nearby (but gratefully unoccupied) table.
Leicester Middle School Principal Douglas Daponde, Jr. said this story has likely gained national attention because it’s a welcome break from all the negative news Americans are exposed to.
“This is something that we should be proud of and celebrate, which we are,” Daponde said. “We’re very lucky to have Charlie still here and we’re very happy and lucky to have Amelia who was right there for her brother.”
Daponde said they are already discussing how to include the Heimlich Maneuver in the school’s health curriculum.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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