State - Regional

SC officer saves woman choking on mozzarella stick

ANDERSON, SC (WSPA) -  A woman in Anderson said she was lucky to be alive Wednesday, after a mozzarella stick nearly took her life.

Sarah Pray, a former EMT, said she’s used to saving lives but didn’t think someone would wind up saving hers.

The 25-year-old from Anderson said she was driving through the downtown area Tuesday, eating a mozzarella stick, when the food didn't go down right.

"They were telling jokes on the radio and I had just taken a bite of food, and when I started to laugh it got sucked in,” she explained.

Gasping for air, Pray said she pulled over and started looking for someone who could help.

"We just happened to be coming across the street, we were here just in time,” Sgt. Cornelius Pickens of the Anderson Police Department told 7 News.

Sgt. Pickens said he was with a few other officers walking back from lunch when he saw Pray sitting in her car, holding her throat.

"I waved him down like this,” explained Pray, holding her hands around her neck. “And then I went like that, the universal sign for choking."

Sgt. Pickens had only a few seconds to remember his training.

"’Am I going to remember how to do it and do it right, and do it properly, and actually help this woman?’ is what I was thinking,” he said.

But he did.

Performing the Heimlich maneuver for the second time in his career, the officer dislodged the mozzarella stick so Pray could breathe.

"This is not something that you see or do every day,” said Sgt. Pickens.

"It was a blessing that there was someone here that knew what to do,” said Pray.

Pray was able to thank Sgt. Pickens on Wednesday after 7 News brought the two together in the parking lot where the incident happened.

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