An 8-year-old Pennsylvania boy was left horror-struck while riding in a car with his dad and little sister. Believing his little sister was going to die, the boy flew into action before his dad could even get the car pulled over.
Jaxson Dempsey, an 8-year-old Hazleton, Pennsylvania boy, was on his way to get a haircut when horror struck. While riding in the car with his dad and his little sister Leila, the 20-month-old toddler’s face began to turn bright purple and red. It didn’t take long for Jaxson to realize what was happening, and the Heights Terrace Elementary School second-grader immediately feared his baby sister was about to die.
Leila had begun choking on a chicken nugget from McDonald’s, and with the toddler unable to breathe, Jaxson knew time was running out. “It made me feel scared because I thought she was going to die,” Jaxson recalled. Rather than letting the fear paralyze him, however, Jaxson flew into action, saving his sister’s life with a technique he recalled from watching wrestler John Cena on a Nickelodeon TV show.
“[T]his thing came into my mind,” Jaxson told CBS affiliate WYOU, referring to an episode of the Nickelodeon hidden camera prank show The Substitute, in which celebrities go undercover as substitute teachers. On the particular episode that rushed to Jaxson’s mind during Leila’s horrifying ordeal, John Cena used a dummy named Chuck to teach a class of young students the basics of CPR and first aid.
With that lesson in mind, Jaxson flew into action. “I told my dad to pull over and I started to pat her back,” Jaxson said, recalling the moment he leaned Leila forward and began to strike her on the back, between the shoulder blades, with the heel of his hand. After about 30 seconds, Jaxson ultimately dislodged the stuck chicken nugget before his dad was even able to pull the car over and get to the toddler.
Of course, proud dad Matt Dempsey is grateful for his son’s brave actions and quick thinking. “Her face was bright purple and red, and she wasn’t really breathing. Jaxson sprung into action before I even opened the door,” Matt admitted, according to Daily Mail. “I couldn’t believe it. I mean, he’s always been a really good big brother, but I never knew he would know what to do with that,” the thankful dad added.
According to Matt, Leila remained unusually calm throughout the ordeal, but that only proves the level of distress she was in, unable to cry for help due to her airway being obstructed. “I couldn’t hear her,” Matt recalled. “She wasn’t coughing, she wasn’t panicking,” he added, according to WNEP. “She just had no air going through. She wasn’t breathing. Thank God Jaxson was there because, without him, I don’t know if Leila would be here.”
Matt isn’t the only one celebrating his son’s heroics and hailing 8-year-old Jaxson Dempsey a hero. “Everyone at Nickelodeon is so proud of Jaxson and his heroic actions,” Nickelodeon spokesman David Bittler said in a statement to People. “We are honored to be a part of such a remarkable story of good news and courage! Yay for Jaxson and Leila!!!”
Although Jaxson said he feels “like a hero so much in [his] heart,” he quickly shared the praise with John Cena and gave a heartfelt thanks to the wrestler. “I would say thank you for being on that show,” the heroic 8-year-old said, adding that he believes all children should learn CPR and first aid in case they find themselves in a similar situation. “It taught me a lot about how to save someone’s life.”