NEWPORT - A school bus driver in Newport is the toast of the town after saving the life of one of his student passengers.
Passenger Nekko Deutsch likes to have fun in the hallways with friends, like many high school students. He s an admitted practical joker. But last week, riding in the very back of the school bus on the way home, Nekko accidentally swallowed a plastic ice cube with a gulp of water.
His friends first thought he was joking again.
No that s not something you joke about, said Nekko. It s not funny.
His airway was blocked. Nekko could not breathe.
I had this blurriness covering my eyes, starting through my peripherals, and I couldn t see anything but a blank light, he said.
Students started screaming for help. One ran to the front to tell the driver.
Driver Jim McIntyre is a retired shopping center developer from Southern California. Four years ago, bored with retirement, he started driving a bus in the Newport and Toledo area. He got extensive training on safety and life saving from his company, MidColumbia.
I thought, I ll never use that. I mean, I hope I don t have to use it.
But suddenly, with Nekko teetering on the edge of life and death, that training came through. McIntyre gave him the Heimlich maneuver twice, forcing the plastic cube out of the teen s throat.
Nekko was shaken. But he was alive.
I was sitting there crying and I was so scared for the rest of the bus ride home I was quiet. I really didn t say anything, he said.
McIntyre did though; he lectured the kids on why they should not eat or drink on the bus.
And he s relieved.
I m very thankful for the way it turned out. I ve thought about it since. It could have been 180 degrees the other way, he said.