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Waiter saves choking man's life at Winona Ground Round

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Gerard Lampo was choking on a piece of lettuce in a Winona restaurant last week when a quick-thinking waiter saved his life.

Last Friday evening, the 82-year-old Gerard was enjoying a dinner salad at the Ground Round with his wife, Maryln, when he took a bite of lettuce that was a bit too big. It lodged in the back of his throat, and he realized he couldn’t swallow or talk.

Just then, the couple’s waiter, Tyler Kircher, stopped by the table to see how they were doing. Maryln, who realized what was happening to her husband, told Kircher he should try pounding Gerard on the back.

“He tried a few times on my back, and that didn’t work,” Gerard said.

Still unable to breathe, Gerard stood up and motioned that Kircher should try abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich maneuver. After about three tries, and several intense seconds, Kircher’s efforts dislodged the piece of lettuce.

Kircher, who is studying youth ministry at Saint Mary’s University, said he was trained in first aid at a summer camp a few years ago, where he learned how to help someone who is choking.

He’d never done the Heimlich maneuver before, but he saw that’s what Gerard needed.

“He was struggling more and more,” Kircher said. “It was a scary moment.”

Kircher said he’s glad everything turned out all right, but he doesn’t consider himself a hero.

“I was just happy that I happened to be there at the right time,” he said.

Gerard said he thanks God for good people like Kircher.

“It’s good to be alive again,” he said. “I just have to learn to cut things up a little finer.”

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