ROCKAWAY, N.J. (WPIX) — A restaurant employee in New Jersey has earned a new nickname — “Hoagie Hero” — after coming to the aid of a choking customer on Thursday.
Danielle Buccielli, 21, was working at PrimoHoagies in Rockaway when she jumped into action to save the woman. The dramatic moment was captured on the store’s security cameras.
Buccielli told WPIX she was at the cash register when she noticed the woman clutching her stomach and gasping for air. Within seconds, Buccielli ran from behind the counter and performed the Heimlich maneuver on the customer.
“I think it was all the adrenaline, the muscle memory, just, you know what you have to do, and you do it,” Buccielli said.
Buccielli was actually trained in the Heimlich at 15 years old when she took a public safety class. She also joined her local fire department at 16.
Luckily for the customer, Buccielli was also stationed up front at the cashier. She normally works in the back.
Lizzy Sengle, Buccielli’s coworker, said Buccielli deserves all the praise she’s getting.
“It happened so quick, you don’t even realize it,” Sengle told WPIX. “Then you watch back and, you’re like, it’s the split second between life and death.”
The customer thanked Buccielli for saving her life, but declined to be interviewed. But Buccielli told WPIX she’s just happy the incident had a happy ending.
“I don’t do it to be a hero, just to help people,” Buccielli said. “It’s the most important thing.”
Buccielli’s employers at PrimoHoagies, meanwhile, thought her good deed deserved a reward, telling WPIX they were giving her $1,000.