Quick-acting, “calm” teacher saves Hemlock fifth-grader’s life – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Hemlock Elementary fifth-grader Alaina Cortijo will always remember what happened at 10:30 a.m. Thursday and she will forever regard her teacher, Angelo Marubayashi, in a heroic light.

After hearing, then seeing her choke on a slice of orange, he calmly performed the Heimlich maneuver and saved her life.

“I thought I might die,” Cortijo said Friday afternoon during an interview at the 400 Hemlock St. campus, with her mother, Katrina, sitting next to her in Marubayashi’s class, Room 13.

A light-haired girl with a bright, round face, she recounted what happened, including an understandably tearful walk to the school office afterward. Marubayashi nodded in agreement as she spoke.

“I became aware that she was making choking sounds,” he said, then described using the lifesaving Heimlich maneuver to get the orange slice to pop out of her mouth.


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