NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Staten Island man helped save an NYPD officer who indicated he was choking while eating breakfast at a local diner recently.
CBS2’s Erin Logan talked exclusively Sunday with the man, Rob Allegre, who is being hailed as a hero.
Allegre still cannot believe what happened. Once he watched himself in action on the diner’s surveillance camera is when he realized he potentially saved an officer’s life.
On Sunday night, employees were still talking about the morning shift a day earlier, saying it was a wake-up call for them.
“I was seeing a police officer like hunched over like this with saliva coming out of his mouth, and I said, ‘Are you OK?’ and he started to pat his back like this, so I figured he was choking,” Allegre said.
Allegre knew what he had to do.
“I just started performing the Heimlich maneuver,” he said. “I gave him like three plunges to his stomach and I helped him out, and he started breathing again.”
Allegre said the officer’s partner was right there behind him, making sure he was OK.
“He went to the bathroom and cleaned up, and he came back and thanked me and everything like that, and it felt really good helping him out,” Allegre said.
Allegre said people at the restaurant then treated him to breakfast, and then he called his wife.
“My first reaction is was I couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘Wow, what did you say?’ I made him repeat it,” said Jennifer Allegre. “I’m very proud of him because first of all, I didn’t even know he knew how to do that.”
Allegre, a regular at the diner, said he never actually thought he would be put in such as position.
“I just knew the basics of it, so I just tried it and it helped. Yes, I know the Heimlich,” he said. “Everybody was just stand around and watch, and they were in shock. They just froze.”
Employees said their shift was eye-opening.
“I always see photos of the Heimlich in a restaurant, but I really think I never have to do this so,” said Ian Urcolini, who added that he is not trained for the Heimlich maneuver.
Allegre said the officer later went back to his table and to his breakfast. It is called the Sloppy Breakfast – and for good reason, as it includes eggs, sausage, ham, potatoes and more with a lot of melted cheese around it.
“I wasn’t planning on saving anyone that day, and it happened,” Allegre said.
Both Allegre and the diner’s owner said they do not know the officer’s name. They were just happy to see him breathing.