Mariano's employee in Lake Zurich saves boy from choking

Updated 4/7/2017 6:09 PM

A potentially serious situation Friday at a Lake Zurich grocery store had a happy ending, thanks to the quick action of an employee.

An unidentified mom was shopping with her son, who was eating popcorn, about 1:45 p.m. at the Mariano's store at 1350 Route 22.

Daniel Finkel, 27, was stocking shelves in the produce department when he heard the woman talking to the boy, who was about 5 years old.

"He had kind of a blank stare on his face, and his mom asked if he was OK," Finkel said.

Suddenly, the mother began screaming.

"I didn't hesitate. I ran up to the boy and gave him the Heimlich maneuver," said Finkel, who started working at Mariano's two years ago in Northbrook and moved to the Lake Zurich store 14 months ago.

"After about three thrusts, it came out. She said, `He's breathing. He's breathing,'" Finkel said. The Buffalo Grove resident said he took a CPR class in high school, has seen it done on TV and read about it but never had to actually use the maneuver.

"I was in shock, too. It was scary. The kid could have definitely died."

Store manager Gilbert Menez learned about the save when the boy's mother went to the customer service desk and asked to speak with the manager.

"She was still in shock," Menez said. "This happened to my boy (so) I knew what she was going through. She was very appreciative and thankful."

Menez praised Finkel for his "heroic assistance" and quick action.

"It's great to have someone like that working for us," he said.

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