4 Our Heroes: Youth Soccer Referee Provides Life-Saving Assist - NBC Southern California
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4 Our Heroes: Youth Soccer Referee Provides Life-Saving Assist

The referee's quick thinking off the field helped save a young boy who was choking on a bottle cap.

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    4 Our Heroes: Youth Soccer Referee Saves Boy's Life

    Andy Dale, who referees youth soccer games in Claremont, jumped into action when he noticed a young boy choking in the stands last April. Kathy Vara reports for the NBC4 News at 4 p.m. on Friday, July 20, 2018. (Published Friday, July 20, 2018)

    A referee was enjoying a must-needed break on a timeout during a youth soccer game in Claremont the last April. His break abruptly ended, however, when he was needed to assist an eight-year-old boy who was choking.

    "It was every parent's nightmare!" Ed Tessier said.

    He was referring to the scary ordeal last spring that may have taken his son's life if not for an unlikely hero.

    "I was eating Hot Cheetos and I was holding the bottle cap with one finger," said Leo Tessier who was in the stands watching the soccer game.

    He was juggling the bottle and cap in one hand and Cheetos in the other. Then he took a sip.

    "When he did, the cap slipped into his mouth and it startled him, and he took in a big breath and it logged in his trachea," Ed said.

    Leo immediately started choking.

    "I went uh, uh, uh," he said.

    People in the crowd saw the commotion, including referee Andy Dale, who instantly knew something was very wrong.

    "I noticed Leo was choking," Dale said. "When you see a choking person, you don't wait to ask permission. You do something."

    Dale's training kicked in.

    "Referee Andy was the calm and cool and collected one and just walked right in and took over," Ed said.

    He started performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Leo.

    "You always expect that dramatic thing, where it comes shooting out of someone's mouth," Dale said. "We didn't get that satisfaction."

    The referee said it took several tries and a lot of effort.

    "I believe it was like this," Dale said, reenacting the maneuver on Leo for NBC4's cameras. "And then you just pull up."

    Then, suddenly, it worked!

    "I was actually shocked to see it was a bottle cap," Dale said.

    Paramedics took Leo to the hospital for an examination and saw exactly where the cap had been due of abrasions in his throat, Ed said.

    Leo recovered and is now teaching others what to do if they're choking.

    "It was a great team effort," Ed said. "We had a great person who knew life-saving maneuvers and we had a willing patient that was ready to get saved."

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