Man saves boy choking on candy in auto store

March 02, 2007 12:00 am

By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate staff writer

A repairman at Coast Auto Center in Crescent City saved the life of a 4-year-old boy Thursday.

"It was kind of surreal," the boy's savior Gary Wolfe said.

Wolfe said he was counting change for a customer when a lady standing on the other side of the counter started panicking and screaming, "Breathe! Breathe!"

The woman shouting orders was Kokala Settles, the mother of 4-year-old Michael Settles Jr., who, at that time, was choking on a piece of peppermint candy.

"I was freaking out, he was turning all kinds of colors," Kokala said.

"His ears were turning almost purple," Wolfe said, so he decided to take action.

Wolfe came around the counter picked Michael Jr. up and used the Heimlich maneuver six to eight times before he dislodged the candy.

"He just ran around the counter, gave him the Heim-lich and was able to help him," Kokala said. "I'm very thankful."

Wolfe said he did not have any professional training.

"I guess sitting on the couch watching TLC really paid off," Wolfe said with a chuckle.

"At least I know if someone's gonna be choking," he added, "I'm not gonna be the one standing around watching."