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    Tuesday, April 16, 2024

    Montville middle-schooler saves friend from choking

    Leonard J. Tyl Middle School School Resource Officer Kirsten Todd, left, poses with seventh-graders Carson Gingerella, 13, middle, and Jayce Adams, 12, at the school in Montville Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Adams was recently honored for saving Gingerella, who was choking on a mozzarella stick during lunch. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Montville ― When seventh-grade student Carson Gingerella started choking on a mozzarella stick in the Leonard J. Tyl Middle School school cafeteria, classmate Jayce Adams was the first to come to his rescue.

    “When I tried to swallow it, it didn’t go down,” Gingerella said Tuesday, as he recalled the moment he began choking on March 18.

    “The cheese stuck to my throat,” he said. “So, when I tried to like, force it down, like I tried swallowing harder, it just got stuck.”

    Adams’ life-saving maneuver was recognized by the Montville Police Department at a March 25 meeting of the Public Safety Commission.

    Gingerella and Adams, who are friends, recalled the incident during an interview at the school on Tuesday.

    At approximately 10:44 a.m. the day of the incident, the lunchroom was full of seventh-graders, including Gingerella and Adams. Seeking help in the crowded, noisy cafeteria, Gingerella, 13, went to a nearby cafeteria worker’s checkout counter and started tapping frantically to get her attention.

    “She’s like, ‘What?’ And she turns around, my face is red, and she starts yelling, ‘He’s choking!‘” Gingerella said.

    Meanwhile, Adams, sitting at a table nearby with his friends, noticed the distressed Gingerella. He used his training as a Boy Scout, Sea Cadet and Sea Marine and began performing the Heimlich maneuver on Gingerella.

    “It was scary,” 12-year-old Adams said. “Because no one else was looking, and there was a lot of noise.”

    The cafeteria worker, the two boys said, had exited the room to get School Resource Officer Kirsten Todd, who was in the hallway with students lined up for lunch.

    “So, I was standing right at the door and I had children coming at me, and it was loud,” Todd said during an interview. “Then all of the sudden I heard, ‘Officer Todd! Officer Todd!’ So I flip around, and that’s when I saw Jayce grabbing onto Carson.”

    “At first I didn’t hear choking, I just thought that maybe Jayce broke up a fight or something,” Todd said. “And then as I got closer that’s when they told me that he was choking, and I took over for Jayce and realized he wasn’t holding him back, he was actually giving him the Heimlich.”

    Todd finished performing the maneuver until the mozzarella stick was completely dislodged, saving Gingerella.

    By the time Adams got home, his mother, Heather Bennett, already had been informed of his life-saving actions.

    “It comes natural for him,” she said by telephone. “He’s always been a very caring, kind kid. He cares a lot about his community and peers.”

    Todd said she was “extremely proud of Jayce for jumping in and helping Carson, but as a police department too, it’s so heartwarming to know that there are students out here that are doing the right thing and will jump forward and jump to action if need be.”

    Police Chief Wilfred Blanchette presented Adams with the department’s Commendation for Lifesaving, and he and Todd with the Chief of Police Award for “duty above and beyond” at the public safety meeting last week.

    As for all the media attention and accolades Adams has received since helping his classmate, Bennett said he’s been “very happy, and surprised, because he thinks helping someone in need just comes naturally.“

    “You don’t know what to say, sometimes,” Adams said.

    d.drainville@theday.com

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