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Aurora middle-schooler saves friend with Heimlich maneuver

TravAvery (right) helped his friend Jose Duran by performing Heimlich Maneuver when Jose was choking piece candy their 8th-grade Technology

Travon Avery (right) helped his friend Jose Duran by performing the Heimlich Maneuver when Jose was choking on a piece of candy in their 8th-grade Technology class at Hergut Middle School in Aurora. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media (photo taken on Friday, December 7, 2012)

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Updated: January 10, 2013 6:28AM

AURORA — A middle school student turned lifesaver this week, performing the Heimlich maneuver on a friend who was choking.

Eighth grader Travon Avery saved his fellow eighth grader Jose Duran, after Jose began choking on an Almond Joy candy bar in their World of Work technology class Wednesday at Herget Middle School on Aurora’s West Side.

“We were sitting in the classroom. We were just talking,” Travon said.

World of Work teacher Lisa Ullom said the teens were in the middle of building websites about a bridge project they had recently completed for the class.

Jose was chomping on the chocolate, coconut and almond confection when a piece of the candy bar became stuck in his throat.

He tried to cough, but it was still stuck. Then he started to panic.

Although the situation was scary, Travon reacted quickly.

“I asked, ‘Are you choking?’” Travon said. “Last year, they taught us if a person wasn’t talking, it’s ‘cause they were choking.”

Travon, who transferred to Herget this year, remembered something he learned last year in Barbara Swenson’s Life Skills class at Jefferson Middle School —the Heimlich maneuver.

“I had to grab him, pump him three times in the stomach,” Travon said. “It all was quick.”

And it worked. The piece of candy dislodged and Jose could breathe again.

Ullom, helping students at the other end of the classroom, didn’t realize Jose was choking until the situation was over.

“I saw tears coming down his face, but he was talking by then,” Ullom said.

Travon even walked Jose down to the nurse’s office to make sure he was fine.

Trudy Mills, a parent of one of the teens’ classmates, said performing the rescue maneuver “was really big of him.”

“It’s so heroic for a little 13-year-old to do that,” she said.

Travon’s mother, Auroran Crystal Ruffin-Mason, said she’s not surprised her “teddy bear” middle son, a talented musician, stepped up to the plate.

“Travon is such a lovable person. He’s passionate,” his mom said. “I’m not surprised that he jumped into the action. I am very proud of him.”

Jose said he was grateful for his friend’s quick response.

But will he stop eating Almond Joys? “Maybe,” Jose said.

Either way, next time he’ll follow the rules, Ullom said — no candy in class.

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