QUEENS — A quick-thinking Jackson Heights teacher’s aide who saved a 14-year-old special needs student choking on her lunch was awarded for her actions early this month.
Maritza Agrelo, 51, was monitoring the lunchroom at I.S. 145 last month when she noticed Sally Olivo, 14, gagging on her food.
Agrelo, a 12-year veteran who had just been certified in CPR a year earlier, rushed to Olivo's side and started the Heimlich maneuver to help clear the student’s air passage.
"It was very scary. She was turning purple," Agrelo said of the May 8 incident. "She threw her legs out and her eyes rolled out."
When that didn’t work, Agrelo reached straight into the student’s mouth to help dislodge the food.
"Thank God ... Sally’s fine," said Agrelo, who was honored for her efforts with a certificate from City Councilman Daniel Dromm's office.
Olivo, a straight-A student who is heading to high school in the fall and who is in a wheelchair, said it was a terrifying moment.
"I was eating something and then I felt like I was choking," said the eighth-grade graduate who was recently voted the school's prom queen. "My eyes started to water….and then I passed out."
Olivo was later taken to Elmhurst Hospital for a check-up and was released after being given the all-clear by the doctor.