A 17-Year-Old Stepped In to Save a Choking Boy When No One Else Could

Tyra Winters was participating in her homecoming parade when she saw a child choking in the crowd.

Tyra Winters in uniformCourtesy Steven Offeild
Midparade, Tyra Winters reacted first.

It was the homecoming parade in Rockwall, Texas, and cheerleader Tyra Winters, outfitted in her uniform, was riding atop one of the school’s floats. As it slowly made its way down the boulevard, the 17-year-old enthusiastically waved at the crowd, all the while soaking in the music, laughter, and applause.

All of a sudden, a horrific scream pierced the joyous cacophony. Looking down, Winters saw a two-year-old on the sidewalk gasping for air, his frantic mother pleading for help. The boy, Clarke Hornback, had been sucking on a piece of candy when it slid down the back of his mouth, lodging in his throat and blocking his windpipe.

“I see a little bright red face and his mom’s begging, ‘Someone help me, someone help me,’ ” Winters told KTVT.

“There was no coughing; there was no breathing,” Clarke’s mother, Nicole Hornback, later told news station NBCDFW. “He was just gasping for air.” No one seemed to know how to help. These uplifting stories of neighbors helping during coronavirus will inspire you to do the same.

Except for Winters. A senior with dreams of becoming a pediatric surgeon, she had learned the Heimlich maneuver and CPR. Knowing that the clock was ticking, she leaped off the moving float and ran to the child.

By the time she got to Clarke, his face had turned purple. “I got him!” she yelled to Nicole as she grabbed the boy from her. “I tilted him and gave a good three back thrusts,” she told the local CBS station.

Soon, the boy coughed up the piece of candy, gasped, and began breathing again. Without another word, Winters handed Clarke back to his mother and sprinted back to her float before it could leave her behind.

It all happened so fast, Nicole never had time to thank the teen. She didn’t need to, says Winters. “I knew what she was feeling. I saw her tears. I saw her face.” The world is full of kind people, such as these 24 stories about the touching kindness of strangers that’ll make you tear up.

A good thing, because Winters’s heroic actions left Nicole speechless. “I don’t really have any words,” she says. “The words that you would say to anyone who does something for you is ‘thank you.’ But that doesn’t seem good enough.”

Next, this 23-year-old lifted a car off her dad and saved his life.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Andy Simmons
Andy Simmons is a features editor at Reader's Digest.