To celebrate homecoming, a Texas cheer squad climbed aboard the high school football float to kick off the parade. However, locals were shocked and confused when one of the cheerleaders suddenly jumped off the float and rushed toward the crowd.
In many small towns, football homecoming is an important tradition. In fact, the entire community often comes together to celebrate the home team, which typically involves a parade, floats, and fun for the whole family. For 17-year-old Tyra Winters, homecoming week suddenly unfolded into a terrifying scenario.
As the Rockwall High School football team made its way past cheering crowds on either side, some of the local cheer team sat atop the trailer with the players. However, the hurrahs quickly turned into gasps and shrieks as Winters leaped from the float and rushed toward a young boy.
According to CBS-DFW, Winters shocked bystanders when she bolted from her seat on the homecoming float, flew over to a woman’s toddler, and yanked up the little boy. The Rockwall senior had spotted 2-year-old Clarke Hornback in the bustling crowd. The tiny child was choking on a piece of candy and had started to turn purple, prompting Winters to sprint over to him in order to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
“He was turning purple, so I immediately jumped off the float, I ran down to the kiddo, and I was like, ‘I got him’ and I grabbed him from the mom. I grabbed him and tilted him and I gave a good three back thrusts and he ended up spitting up,” Winters explained.
Winters had been trained in the Heimlich maneuver by her mother a few years earlier. When she saw the scared, choking toddler, her instinct and teaching immediately kicked in.
Nicole Hornback told ABC News that she had tried to perform the Heimlich maneuver several times on Clarke before Winters stepped in. When she couldn’t unlodge the candy, she panicked, running through the crowd in a desperate attempt to find someone who could help.
“I was sitting right next to him. I just happened to look over. There was no noise, no coughing, no breathing,” Hornback said. “I just literally was holding him out and just running through the crowd trying to hand him off to anyone.”
Thanks to Winters’ quick-thinking and perfected technique, she was able to clear Clarke’s airway within seconds. Terrified that she was about to lose her baby, Hornback is indescribably grateful to Winters for her efforts.
“She saved my baby,” said Hornback. “I commend her for being a teenager and being trained.”
A few days later, Hornback managed to reunite with the woman who saved her little boy’s life. She gratefully hugged Winters and thanked her again for her heroic actions. Of course, Clarke is still too young to understand what happened.
“It’s hard for him because he’s so young,” Hornback said. “He doesn’t even remember what he ate for breakfast.”
If it hadn’t been for Winters’ training, Clarke might not be here today. The teen attributes a simple lesson in how to properly perform the Heimlich maneuver to her ability to save the boy’s life.
“At this point, he’s kind of turning purple,” Winters said. “I picked him up and then I tilted him downwards and gave him two or three back thrusts. He then was spitting everything up.”
Incredibly, a little boy is likely alive today because Winters’ mother took the time to help her daughter learn the life-saving technique years ago. The knowledge will undoubtedly last her a lifetime and certainly impacted the Hornback family in one of the most powerful ways.
The incident shows just how crucial learning the proper techniques for clearing the airway of an infant, child, or adult can be. This terrifying experience can happen to anyone, which is why it is vital to educate ourselves and our children on these practices. It just might save a life.