Students save lives

After a week of heroic acts, Lourdes Academy eighth grade students (from left) Antonio, Jonathan, and Vyon, and After Care Program Coordinator Dawn Ritchie pause in front of the school’s KIND mural. Antonio and Jonathan are credited for saving Mrs. Ritchie and Vyon’s life after the boys prevented them from choking. (COURTESY)

DAYTONA BEACH |Two eighth grade Lourdes Academy students are being hailed heroes after each jumped into action and saved a school employee and classmate from choking.

Friday, Nov. 6 Jonathan and fellow classmate, Vyon, were enjoying their lunches in the cafeteria when Vyon began choking on a piece of a popsicle. Jonathan began pounding on his friend’s back until the food piece dislodged. Jonathan said he and Vyon have been best friends since kindergarten and he would have been “destroyed” had anything happened to him.

Three days later on Monday, Nov. 9, it was Antonio who saved the day. During the school’s aftercare program, Antonio was talking to program coordinator, Dawn Ritchie, when she began choking on a piece of food. Antonio quickly stepped in and performed the Heimlich maneuver on her, dislodging the obstacle from her throat. When Ritchie began praising and thanking him, Antonio simply said, “You are welcome.”

He said he learned the life-saving maneuver this summer after his mother went through a similar choking situation.
“I’m not surprised by the actions of these young men. It goes to show how they truly understand our root belief, ‘loving the God you cannot see by loving the neighbor you can,’” said Stephen Dole, principal at Lourdes Academy.

“It takes a tremendous amount of courage and bravery to step in at a moment’s notice to help someone in need. To do this as an 8th-grade student and potentially save a life is amazing,” he said.

Lourdes Academy has a long tradition of educating students in the Daytona Beach area since 1955. The school community is Christ-centered and recognizes the value and uniqueness of each person as a child of God.

To view a video of their lifesaving work, click here.

By Linda Caldwell, special to the Florida Catholic November 16, 2020