Saturday, November 07, 2015

Autistic Teen Saves Choking Classmate Thanks To SpongeBob SquarePants!

A 13-year-old autistic student from Staten Island saved a fellow classmate from choking last week by applying the Heimlich maneuver... which he learned by watching an episode of "SpongeBob SquarePants"!

Brandon Williams noticed his classmate Jessica Pellegrino, who also suffers from autism, was struggling to breath after getting a piece of apple stuck in her throat while eating lunch at Barnes Intermediate School in New York City on Wednesday 28th October 2015. During the incident, Jessica managed to scream out and Brandon immediately sprang to action and applied the Heimlich maneuver, and she spat the obstruction out.

"I looked at him, I go, 'Where'd you learn to do that?' He said, 'I learned it on 'SpongeBob,'" Brian Griffin, an I.S. 24 Para-Professional, told ABC 7.

"But my son picked it up, it's incredible, I'm on cloud nine right now," said Anthony Williams, Brandon's dad.

For these two and their families, the moment is that much more intense because another New York City girl choked in school and died just last week.

"And I was just like, 'Oh my God, Jessica you were choking, you could have died,'" said Debbie Pelligrini, Jessica's mother.

Because with all of the challenges of autism, there are also the amazing things like critical details kids like Brandon understand.

"He remembers places. He was 4.5 years old and the bus driver at that point didn't know how to get to my mother's. He directed the bus driver to my mother's at 4.5," said Karen Williams, Brandon's mother.

"These kids are smart," said Susan Williams, Brandon's grandmother, "Most people don't realize that."

"But you do," Eyewitness News said.

Susan nodded "yes" with tears in her eyes.

And for Jessica she has quite the compliment for her friend. "What do you think of your friend?" Eyewitness News asked. "He's awesome, and cute," Jessica said.

Let's just say she won't forget either!

After hearing about what happened, adults at the school said Brandan deserved a medal – but the modest teenager said he didn’t need one, NBC reported. His seventh grade classmates threw a party to celebrate his quick thinking!

It's not the first time SpongeBob has provided the same sort of lifesaving inspiration.

In one episode of the hit Nickelodeon show, SpongeBob applies the Heimlich to stop frenemy Squidward from choking to death on his clarinet.

In 2010, one Long Beach middle schooler saved her friend from choking on a piece of gum using the maneuver, which she also learned from the show.

"And Miriam, she goes, 'Ali are you choking?' and I go (shakes head)," said Allyson Golden, a student.

And it isn't just choking children who have benefitted from SpongeBob - the Nickelodeon superstar has also helped an 8-year-old from New Jersey save his 5-year-old friend from drowning, also in 2010.

You can watch Brandon discuss the incident in the videos below:

Sources: Gothamist, Metro News,, NBC New York