Akron Assistant Principal called hero after performing Heimlich and saving child’s life

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 11:15 PM EDT

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - An assistant school principal in the Akron School District is being called a hero, after performing the Heimlich maneuver and saving a child’s life on the first day of school.

It was also the first day on the job as Assistant Principal Darby Baumberger at the Betty Jane Community Learning Center. She was on lunch duty in the school’s cafeteria when she heard 4th grader Arthur Clark continually coughing, but her instincts told her that something far worse was wrong. So, she immediately went over to ask if he was okay.

The 9-year-old couldn’t answer her, because he had been eating a corn dog and laughing and talking with friends when a piece of the corn dog became lodged in his throat. Arthur told 19 News, “I felt like there was a wall blocking my throat. I was thinking am I gonna die?”

But, Assistant Principal Baumberger was determined not to let something like that happen on her watch.

Then, the 4th grader stopped breathing, “All of a sudden there was no sound. He was just standing there, kind of grabbing his throat. So, then I looked at my principal and she said I’m getting the nurse. But, in my head, I said I don’t think there’s time for that, and I said I’m doing the Heimlich. I put my arms around him, I pulled two times, and I was concerned at how hard I should do it. But, he still wasn’t breathing, so, I did it two more times, and in my head, I’m like I’ll do it a little hard and on the 4th time it ejected.”

9-year-old Arthur told 19 News, “It felt like if you got hit in the stomach by John Cena.”

By performing the Heimlich, and thrusting her hands into the child’s stomach, the little boy was able to spit up the corn dog, and his airway was back open, allowing him to breathe again. He was checked out by the school nurse and paramedics according to Assistant Principal Baumberger, “I said to them did I do it right? And they said he’s still alive. You did it right.”

But, make no mistake, Arthur knows who saved his life, and he hugged Miss Baumberger, as she said, “Friends for life.”

The little boy’s mother Ashley Howell says there are no words for the woman who saved her only child. Howell says Baumberger deserves a key to the city and so much more, “I’ve been telling her for days, thank you, thank you, superhero. You’ll always have a place in my heart.”

Arthur even had this to say as he gave his new friend a high-five, “Miss Baumberger saved my life. She’s my hero.”

Assistant Principal Baumberger tells 19 News, she was just called for an interview for her new job on Friday and started on Monday, when the incident happened, she says she definitely feels she was placed at that school, at that time for a reason.