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Humble hero 'Guardian angel' saves five year old who was choking on chicken nugget

The heart-stopping incident occurred at a McDonald's Restaurant last Thursday

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Gabriel McKenna, Mary Byrne and Johnny Og who visited his hero a few days after Gabriel saved his life.

Gabriel McKenna, Mary Byrne and Johnny Og who visited his hero a few days after Gabriel saved his life.

Gabriel McKenna, Mary Byrne and Johnny Og who visited his hero a few days after Gabriel saved his life.

A humble hero who saved the life of a five-year old from choking last week said it was 'divine intervention' that he made the rare decision to go into a fast food restaurant to avoid long drive-through queues.

Mum Mary Byrne has described Gabriel McKenna as a guardian angel after he seemed to appear from nowhere to save her son, who she said was 'slipping away' in her arms.

The heart-stopping incident occurred at McDonald's Restaurant in Newry, Co. Down last Thursday, May 27th when the mum of four stopped at the popular take-away to give her son Johnny Óg a treat after a day out together.

Ironically Mary or Gabriel never usually stop at the restaurant, preferring to pick up food from the drive-through service.

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Mary Byrne and Johnny Og at McDonald's just minutes before he choked on a chicken nugget last week

Mary Byrne and Johnny Og at McDonald's just minutes before he choked on a chicken nugget last week

Mary Byrne and Johnny Og at McDonald's just minutes before he choked on a chicken nugget last week

"My other three children were at school but Johnny Óg had a day off so I decided that the two of us would have a day out together," said Mary who lives in Armagh.

"We were on the way back from the beach and I was rushing home to get tea when my mam called to say that she was taking care of the kids so we decided to stop at McDonald's in Newry and eat outside about 5pm

"Johnny Óg went to put the wrappers in the bin and had a chicken nugget in his mouth. I called to him and he didn't answer, he just turned around and stared at me

"I panicked and tried to dislodge the food but nothing was working. He wasn't moving or speaking at that point and I feared he was slipping away.

"Another woman rushed to help and two men jumped out of a car but their efforts didn't work.

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Mary Byrne and Johnny Og in the car on their day out before he choked on a chicken nugget and was saved by a passer-by

Mary Byrne and Johnny Og in the car on their day out before he choked on a chicken nugget and was saved by a passer-by

Mary Byrne and Johnny Og in the car on their day out before he choked on a chicken nugget and was saved by a passer-by

 

"I don't know where Gabriel came out of. I had Johnny Óg across my knee and Gabriel just said 'give me him.' He grabbed him by the legs and hoisted him into the air. He gave him two thrusts between the shoulder blades and the nugget came out.

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"It all happened so fast. The manager of McDonald's came out to see if we were ok and we just sat for a while to get settled. I remember asking Gabriel for his name three times.

"He said to me, do you believe in God and I said, I do now. He said he was in line for the drive through and something told him to go around the front of the restaurant.

"I always go through the drive-in too so I could've been driving when it happened. It scares me to think of what might have happened if I had been driving." she told LMFM Radio's Late Lunch programme.

"I went back to the car and rang my husband and just started crying. I was shaking so much that I couldn't drive and Gabriel told me afterwards that his tears started to fall too, when he returned to his car."

Mary said when she tried to track Gabriel down through Facebook to thank him, she received about 60 messages in 20 minutes telling her how nice a man he was

"People just had the best things to say about him and that he was such a nice person. We went to thank him and he wouldn't hear of taking any money from us. He's just our guardian angel and he's coming down to us soon with a little angel for Johnny Og.

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Johnny Og at the beach hours before he choked on a chicken nugget

Johnny Og at the beach hours before he choked on a chicken nugget

Johnny Og at the beach hours before he choked on a chicken nugget

 

"I really do think he was there for a reason. There was definitely someone watching over us that day."

Gabriel who hails from Kilkerley in Co. Louth and is now living in Cullyhanna in Armagh, said it was 'divine intervention' that he was there at that time.

"I was in the queue for the drive-through but there were so many cars that something told me to go around the front and go into the place for food," he said

"I just saw the commotion and the young fellow who couldn't breathe. I said a prayer and called on the angels to help me save him and luckily enough I was able to.

"The little child had turned white and his lips were blue and his poor mam was in an awful state. Sure anyone would've tried anything to save the child.

"I'm just thankful that I was able to help. The family were good and kind-hearted to seek me out and I was just happy to see a smile on their faces and on the little man's. I think it was definitely divine intervention that I was there that day."

Mary has now pledged to start a CPR course which is starting in her community in the coming weeks and laughed that her son seems to be taking it all in his stride.

"In thanking Gabriel, he said it was lucky that it wasn't me choking because I was so fat that there was no way Gabriel would've been able to pick me up," she laughed,
 

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