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Hero Lakeland Central School District Custodian Saves Child From Choking

Angelo Alessandro
Angelo Alessandro Photo Credit: Lakeland Central Schools

A custodian at a Northern Westchester school is being hailed as a hero after coming to the rescue of a student who was in danger of choking to death.

Angelo Alessandro, a custodial worker at George Washington Elementary School in Mohegan Lake, rushed to the aid of a third-grade student who began choking while eating lunch last month.

Officials at the Lakeland Central School District said that Alessandro noticed the student in distress on Tuesday, April 20, who was not breathing and whose bottom lip was beginning to turn blue.

Alessandro was able to pull the food from the student’s mouth and gave him an abdominal thrust, which resulted in more food being dislodged and allowing the child to return to breathing normally.

“As soon as I saw the purple lips, and the student was not breathing, I took action right away,” Alessandro said. “I knew right away he was choking.”

Alessandro said that as he was saving the student, he kept wishing the boy would “breathe, breathe, breathe. I wanted him to breathe. That’s all I wanted him to do. I was just focused on doing what I had to do to get him breathing again.”

Following the heroic rescue, the student was taken to the nurse’s office to be checked before returning back to the cafeteria to thank his guardian angel.

“When I saw the student come back and say ‘Thank you,’ I said, ‘Thank God he is fine,' " Alessandro said. “I was thankful the kid was breathing again."

Alessandro has worked part-time at George Washington Elementary School since September 2019 and works full-time as an MRI tech aide at New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley.

“Kids are kids, and I would do anything for them, whatever they need,” Alessandro said. “If they need my help, I’ll help in any situation.

Alessandro’s heroics were recognized at the April Board of Education meeting, where top district officials praised his actions.

George Washington Elementary School Principal Tracy Norman praised Alessandro, saying that his actions speak to his character following the rescue.

“I am proud of him,” Dr. Norman said. “It speaks to his character. It is humbling to have a custodian go above and beyond and do such a heroic thing, putting others before himself. That’s a true sign of a hero and I’m certainly proud of him for that.”

“I’m grateful we had Angelo here that day, and I’m grateful he took the initiative to be a human being and help another human being.” 

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