Lincoln County teen saves classmate choking on marble during summer school

A rising freshman at Winfield High School is being praised for his quick thinking after he noticed a classmate choking in the middle of class earlier this month
Published: Jun. 26, 2023 at 6:29 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A rising freshman at Winfield High School is being praised for his quick thinking after he noticed a classmate choking in the middle of class earlier this month.

Travin Sambo, 14, is enrolled at the high school’s summer school program and was sitting in health class when his friend, Trey Lawson, began coughing.

“I heard Trey coughing a lot and gasping for air, and I noticed something was up when he wouldn’t stop coughing,” said Sambo. “He just wouldn’t stop; he kept going.”

Sambo has known Lawson for several years and said he’s known as being the class clown. Because of that, he wasn’t sure if it was a prank or a joke.

“But when I saw he was trying to say ‘help’ and couldn’t get it out, I didn’t even think about I just got up,” he recalled.

Earlier in the class that day, Sambo said Lawson was showing his classmates a marble he had found.

“I was just sitting in class, just messing around, and I mostly fidget with stuff in my mouth,” Lawson said. “So I decided to put a marble in my mouth.”

When a classmate made a funny comment, Lawson said he laughed, inhaling, sending the marble into his throat.

“I was panicking, I was saying help, but they couldn’t even hear what I was saying,” he said. “But Travin heard what I was trying to say.”

Before he knew it, Sambo was behind him, administering the Heimlich maneuver several times until Lawson said the marble became dislodged, landing in his hand.

“I leaned down and started squeezing right here and squeezing upward at an angle,” said Sambo. “I didn’t see the marble come out, but I saw it in his hand after.”

Winfield High School staff was notified of the incident, calling Sambo to the office to express their gratitude for his quick thinking.

“They were very proud,” said Sambo. “They appreciated it because no one else really moved. I think people were panicked or unsure of what was actually happening.”

Autumn Pierce, Sambo’s mother, said she was initially concerned when she received a call from the school principal that morning.

“I’m thinking, why am I getting a call from the high school? What has he done?” she laughed. “But they assured me he was not in trouble and that he’d actually done something really good, but didn’t give a lot of details.”

Before her son could make it through the front door, she was asking questions.

“He told me Trey was choking on a marble, and he got up and did the Heimlich,” Pierce said. “I didn’t realize he even knew what that was, let alone how to do it.”

Sambo said he learned the life-saving measure on an episode of CBS’s Young Sheldon.

“I told him thank you, thanks a lot, 100 times,” said Lawson, who admits he knows better than to put something like a marble in his mouth. “My grandma told me that morning to stop putting things in my mouth, so it feels like karma.”

Both teens said they hope the remaining days of summer school are uneventful before enjoying what’s left of summer vacation before their freshman year begins in the fall.