LITTLE FALLS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A crime-fighting husband and wife team rescued a diner employee choking in the middle of a New Jersey restaurant recently.

As CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported, the man said they saved his life. But the hero sheriff’s officers said they were just doing their jobs.

“Thank God they were there,” said choking victim Nick Sacoulas. “Thank God they were there.”

Three days after the Monday incident, Sacoulas was still coming down off the scare of his life. He was eating part of a muffin while working the Labor Day brunch rush at Park West Diner in Little Falls, New Jersey, when he realized he was choking.

“I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t breathe. And I saw one waitress and I thought it was almost the end,” he said.

“He was turning purple,” said witness Heidi Velkov. “It was scary.”

Enter a hero cop couple – retired police Capt. Lori Mambelli and her husband, Sgt. Javier Custodio.

Lori Mambelli, Javier Custodio

Retired police Capt. Lori Mambelli and her husband, Sgt. Javier Custodio, saved a choking man in a Little Falls, New Jersey restaurant. (Credit: Lori Mambelli/Javier Custodio)

“He couldn’t breathe. He was bent over,” Mambelli said.

Mambelli and Custodio were watching from a nearby booth. Both are trained in performing the Heimlich maneuver.

“My husband was doing the Heimlich itself and going underneath and I was standing there watching and pulling the food out that came out,” she said.

“This size — just this size that got stuck in my throat,” Sacoulas said as he gestured with his fingers to represent a small item.

Sacoulas said Mambelli and Custodio have been coming to the diner for years, but little did he know one day they would save his life.

“I knew that this, you know, this was serious, and if we didn’t get the food out, we might have ended up doing CPR on the ground,” Mambelli said.

“Thank God those people were there. The way he bear hugged me — they really helped me out. If he wasn’t there, I would’ve been – I would’ve went,” Sacoulas said. “Big thank you. Thank you”

Sacoulas said carrot muffins are still his favorite, but he plans to eat them more slowly in the future.

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