Watch: High school student saves friend from choking

Erin O'Brien Email
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Presented by: LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A high school student is being praised after he saved his friend from choking, and it was all caught on camera.

What started as a normal lunch on Wednesday for a group of high school friends in La Crosse, Wisconsin turned into a heroic tale.

Courtesy: School District of La Crosse

As freshman Will Olson and his friends happened to be sitting under the security camera in Central High School's cafeteria, he says he started to choke on a large cheese curd.

"Someone cracked a really funny joke and I just took a deep breath in, and that's when I started to choke," Olson said.

At first, his friends thought he was kidding, but when Ian Brown realized what was happening, he jumped into action and successfully performed the Heimlich Maneuver.

"When his face started turning a blue purple, I was like, 'Ok he's actually choking,'" said Brown.

"I felt scared, I thought I actually could possibly die. And when I saw Ian actually get up and start doing the Heimlich, I felt better, I felt safer," said Olson. "I felt like I could have a better chance at living."

Brown says he learned the skill in the La Crosse Police Department's Explorer program, which teaches high school students about careers in law enforcement.

The program's instructor, Officer Kurt Weaver, says he's proud to see him in action.

He appeared very calm and said, 'OK this is the situation. This is what I have to do,' and just like that's how we train, so it was neat to see that training carry over into a real-life situation," Weaver said.

The friends are glad that Brown was there to help.

"I said, you know, 'I’d rather have you bruised and banged up than have you dead,'" Brown explained. "I said that that was my number one thing, is that I’m either going to break some ribs or I’m going to hurt you somewhere else, but at least you're going to be alive to tell about it."

"I feel thankful that I had Ian there," said Olson. "He had the training no one else did, and I was just really really lucky he was there at the time."

Brown says he's meeting with the police chief on Monday to be recognized for his lifesaving actions.