All 11-year-old Erik Wyatt had on his mind was to save his little brother Gavin from choking to death.
“I feel really happy that I saved my brother,” Erik said. “I just couldn’t lose him. He’s my brother, and I would be nothing without Gavin.”
Erik and his family were at Tomora Training Center, an equine boarding and training facility, off U.S. 34 between Windsor and Greeley on Oct. 19 visiting the horse that they lease when he went into life-saving mode.
Gavin, 9, began choking on a peppermint piece of candy and was having difficulty breathing when Erik rushed over to him, performed the Heimlich maneuver and out flew the piece of candy and the baked potato that Gavin just ate for lunch at Wendy’s.
Gavin’s mother, Shaundra Ray of Windsor, went into the barn to let the horse out when Gavin swallowed the piece of candy.
“He was unable to breathe. He was grasping at his throat. He was choking,” Shaundra said. “I heard a yell, ‘Help! Gavin’s choking!’ As I came up running up to Gavin and Erik, he stood behind Gavin and gave him the Heimlich, and out came his lunch with a little round mint in it.”
Erik, a fifth-grader at Grandview Elementary School in Windsor, said his emergency safety training in Cub Scouts Pack 57 — he’s a Webelo and Gavin is a Bear — helped save his brother.
“I just yelled at my mom, and it took me like two seconds to think it over,” Erik said. “I was in front of him, and I walked behind him and I did the Heimlich. When my mom got out from the barn, I did the Heimlich in front of her. I got behind him, and I pushed underneath his chest and pushed up which made him just barf it out with the rest of his potatoes.”
Shaundra, 45, said Erik would like to be a police officer or firefighter someday.
“He was very calm, he shouted for help and just did the procedures,” Shaundra said. “I think with the scouts, visiting the police station and EMTs, they have activities like that, he knew what to do. He has a giant heart, and he is very kind. He’s always looked out for people. He kind of watches over everyone, and he’ll give the shirt off his back if somebody needed it. Even as a young child, he’d forfeit toys or give toys to friends if they didn’t have something.”
Shaundra said Erik was a little shaken afterward, but he was very proud of himself.
“He basically saved his brother’s life,” she said. “Gavin was crying, he was very weak and trembly.”
Shaundra said Gavin, a third-grader at Grandview, doesn’t like to talk about the incident because it scared him so much.
“It just scared him so bad. He won’t even eat mints now,” Shaundra said.
The boys’ older sister, Ashley, 13, witnessed Erik saving Gavin’s life.
“It was scary. I felt very proud of him. Erik did something I didn’t expect him to actually do,” said Ashley, an eighth-grader at Severance Middle School. “I can’t be more proud.”
When Grandview Principal Dave Grubbs was told the story about how Erik saved Gavin’s life, he wasn’t surprised.
“I see Erik taking great pride in helping out others,” Grubbs said. “Those two boys came to me early in the year when it was still warm, and there were a wealth of toads out on the playground. They were worried that kids would step on the toads or abuse the toads. They came to get special permission to relocate any of the toads that might be in danger of getting stepped on or harmed. They picked them up and took them to our garden. It doesn’t surprise me that Erik would be willing and able to do something to help somebody else.”
Erik’s response to saving about 24 toads: “People were squashing them. My brother loves toads, so I said, ‘Why not? Let’s help them.’ ”
“He was choking. I heard a yell, ‘Help! Gavin’s choking!’ As I came running up to Gavin and Erik, he stood behind Gavin and gave him the Heimlich …
Shaundra Ray, Erik and Gavin’s mother