School janitor saves choking student in Payson

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John Celaya performs the Heimlich maneuver on a student. (2 June 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS5] John Celaya performs the Heimlich maneuver on a student. (2 June 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS5]
Custodian, John Celaya, helped a choking student with the Heimlich maneuver. (2 June 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS5] Custodian, John Celaya, helped a choking student with the Heimlich maneuver. (2 June 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS5]
PAYSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A school custodian in Payson saved a student’s life by successfully administering the Heimlich maneuver.

It was all captured on surveillance cameras May 23 during a lunch period at Rim Country Middle School.

John Celaya had rolled out his janitor cart to the back of the cafeteria and was waiting for the kids to clear out when he spotted a student in distress.

“The student came out of the bathroom waving his hands,” says Celaya. “Then I said come over here, and I started doing the Heimlich maneuver.”

Celaya says he finally got a good grip on the seventh-grader, and the student spit up a wad of french fries. Celaya was so relieved, he said a prayer.

“I said ‘thank you,’ in Jesus name. It's the truth,” says Celaya. “Because he was there helping me. That’s all I can say.”

The boy is doing fine and the student’s mother even sent Celaya a card and flowers to show her appreciation for his life-saving actions. 

Celaya is so modest, he’s seen in the surveillance video sending the student off with a fellow staff member and then returning to his work cleaning the cafeteria.

“It's not about being a hero,” says Celaya.  “It’s just about saving a life, making sure he's OK."

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