Tammy Mutasa, NBC 5 Mesquite Reporter
4th grader Bennett Iyiegbu is being hailed as a hero for performing the Heimlich maneuver on his friend and classmate Steven Cottles when he started to choke on food in the school cafeteria.
A student at Rutherford Elementary School is being hailed a hero for performing the Heimlich maneuver on his friend who was choking on a taco shell.
Fourth grader Steven Cottles bit off more than he could chew when a taco shell was lodged in his throat, causing him to choke.
"I thought I was going to die,I took a big bite and I started choking and my face turned red and I was crying and I was scared," said Cottles. "I thought no one would see me choking."
But another student did and told fellow classmate Bennett Iyiegbu – who sprang into action and ran to help his friend.
Iyiegbu performed the Heimlich maneuver on Cottles, until the cafeteria supervisor took over and dislodged the shell.
"He was my friend and I didn't want any of my friends to die," said Iyiegbu.
Iyiegbu said he learned how to do the Heimlich maneuver from a poster the student had seen hanging in the cafeteria since he was in the third grade.
"It was on a poster in the cafeteria," Iyiegbu said. "And every time I went to put my lunch up, whenever I was in the third grade, until now I always look at."
Bennett and the cafeteria supervisor, Eva Suarte, have been recognized with a special Mesquite School Board Life Saving Award for their efforts.
"We're all here for each other and we take care of each other and sometimes that happens in a crisis and we have to be prepared to intervene," said Holly Grubbs, the Rutherford Elementary School principal.
It was an act of heroism creating a special bond between friends.
"He's a hero," said Cottles.
"I just think that I'm a student, a regular normal student that likes math," said Iyiegbu who hopes to become a doctor someday.