McGregor student caught on camera saving stranger who was choking

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 1:41 AM CDT
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McGREGOR, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas high school senior is being hailed a hero for saving the life of a stranger with tools he learned in a class he took as a freshman.

“It felt good knowing that I was able to help,” said Humberto Benitez.

Benitez, 17, a senior at McGregor High School, has been working as a dishwasher at the Coffee Shop Cafe in McGregor for about two years.

He says around closing time on Sept. 9, he saw a customer choking on food he got off the buffet.

“I work in the back, so I went to the front to get a water, and that’s when I noticed his face was turning red and a lot of saliva was coming out of his mouth,” said Benitez.

A female customer attempted to help the man but it wasn’t working; that’s when Benitez jumped into action, saving the man’s life by using the Heimlich maneuver, a skill he learned in his freshman health class taught by school nurse Amanda Franks.

The heroic act was caught on camera and shared with the school’s principal.

“I couldn’t be more proud as a principal,” said Seth Fortenberry, Principal of McGregor High School. “I’m proud of him, and I’m proud of Mrs. Franks for teaching our kids to be able to do what they need to do to save a person’s life.”

Franks remembers teaching Benitez as a freshman and said he even won a competition they had in the class using special vests that recreate a choking scenario.

“I’m just so proud of him for doing it, I was kind of just speechless, I was like ‘oh my gosh, look how great he did!’” Franks told KWTX Monday. “I tell them ‘some of y’all will be able to jump into action and some of y’all will freeze, and that’s ok, if all you can do is call 911 that’s great,’ but Humberto--he was able to remember the maneuver and jump into action.”

While tens of thousands of people have been taught first aid, not many of them get to put what they learned into action, and even fewer get to save a life.

“I always tell them, you never know when you’re going to need this,” said Franks.

Fortenberry says, at McGregor High, health is a graduation requirement.

“Through the CPR training received from Mrs. Franks at McGregor High School, Humberto was able to act and respond in a crisis situation to save a gentleman’s life,” said Fortenberry. “The education of CPR and that training is taught through the high school, but being able to respond in the situation of crisis is even more special, and Humberto was a hero that day.”

Benitez is now in line for several awards for his life-saving actions, says Fortenberry.

The identity of the customer who was choking is unknown.

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