Quick-thinking ‘hero’ teen jumps through McDonald’s drive-thru to save choking customer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — A Minnesota teenager is receiving the hero treatment after literally jumping into action Saturday to save a customer choking in the drive-thru at an Eden Prairie McDonald’s.

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Fifteen-year-old Sydney Raley told WBIR that she put her Red Cross first aid training, obtained when she was 11 to become a babysitter, to the test when the woman in her line became visibly distressed.

“I noticed that she was coughing profusely, and her daughter just had this look on her face like sheer terror,” Raley told the TV station, adding, “I could tell, ‘Oh, crap, she’s choking!’ Just seeing that visceral reaction I knew we need to act fast.”

Raley then detailed how she “jumped out of the window of the drive-thru,” got the woman out of her vehicle and told the woman’s daughter to call 911.

“I started doing the Heimlich maneuver, but I’m not really strong, so it didn’t work the first couple times,” Raley said, noting that she was able to flag down a bystander in the parking lot who was able to dislodge the chicken nugget on which the customer was choking.

“It could’ve ended a lot worse, but I am super thankful for that bystander who helped so much because I am decent at first aid, but if it weren’t for him and our efforts together, it could’ve ended so much worse,” Raley told the TV station.

Watch Raley discuss the harrowing incident with KARE in her own words below:

In honor of Raley’s quick thinking and fearless actions, each of the two responding officers with the Eden Prairie Police Department gave the teenager a $50 bill.

According to a post on the department’s official Facebook page, the discretionary funds are part of its “Cops & Cash for the Holidays” program, sponsored by the Eden Prairie Crime Prevention Fund. In only its second year, the program provides each of the department’s 70 sworn officers with $50 to distribute to a “community member to brighten people’s holidays.”

Hero Among Us On Saturday, Dec. 18, a 15-year-old employee at the Eden Prairie McDonald's saved the life of a customer...

Posted by Eden Prairie Police Department on Monday, December 20, 2021

“Our crime fund gave every officer $50 to hand out to wherever we feel the need, [including] if somebody did outstanding work, above and beyond,” Sgt. Scott Mittelstadt, the supervising sergeant at the time of the incident, told WBIR.

“(Raley) is well-deserving of that money,” he said.

Meanwhile, Raley’s parents told the TV station that her ability to remember things with script-like accuracy stems from her autism diagnosis and definitely facilitated the rescue.

“She remembered all of the training as a script in her head and was able to jump into action right away, just because it was stored up there, and she can recall anything she reads and hears,” Stephanie Raley said, calling her daughter’s rare ability a “gift.”