A Rockwall High School cheerleader is being called a hero after she jumped off a float during a homecoming parade to save a 2-year-old boy who was choking.
Tyra Winters said she was enjoying the recent parade, a yearly tradition in Rockwall.
"Bunch of kiddos. Bunch of candy in the air," Winters said. "It was cute."
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Among those lining the streets was Nicole Hornback and her son Clarke.
Winters was passing by when she noticed a life-or-death situation.
"I hear someone screaming, 'Help, help, my son's choking,'" Winters said.
Little Clarke was choking on a piece of candy, his mother said.
"There was no coughing, there was no breathing," Hornback said. "He was just physically choking, just gagging, and just gasping for air."
She tried everything but nothing worked, she said.
"I literally ran from bystander to bystander, just trying to pass him off to whoever would take him," she remembered. "But I was so distraught, I couldn't speak."
A stranger tried to help, but Clarke still couldn’t breathe.
That's when Winters, a 17-year-old senior, jumped off the float and swung into action.
"I picked the kiddo up, I tilted him downward, and I hit two or three good back thrusts," she said. "And he started spitting up and he was getting everything out."
The mother said it all happened so fast.
"To feel so useless as a mother was the most terrifying thing in my life," she said.
Winters said she knew right away the boy was breathing again.
"Super fun. So I gave the kid back to his mom and I ran and got back on the float before I missed it," she said.
Hornback said at the time she never had time to properly say thank you but the teenager said she knew the mother was grateful.
"I knew what she was feeling," Winters said. "I saw her tears. I saw her face."
Winters was trained in the Heimlich maneuver and CPR because her mother runs a group home for foster children. She also plans on becoming a pediatric surgeon.
Hornback said she wanted to personally thank Winters but didn’t know her name or how to reach her, so she wrote a message on Facebook about what happened. School administrators saw it and arranged a reunion at the school on Tuesday.
Clarke and Winters celebrated with a high-five.
"I don't really have any words," Hornback said. "The words that you would say to anyone who does something for you is 'thank you.' But that doesn't seem good enough."
Winters was humble.
"I know they're calling me the town hero," she said. "It's super exciting to own that title. But, most importantly, I'm just glad the boy is OK."