For Parkview Elementary fourth-grader Blaze Bevil and custodian Jesus Mendoza, the day they became friends started out as a normal Tuesday, just a few days after students returned from winter break.
It was lunch time and Blaze had to sit at the girls’ table because the boys’ table was full. He was eating cheese enchiladas from the school’s kitchen when he began to choke.
“I guess I took too big of a bite or I didn’t chew good enough,” Blaze said.
He doesn’t really remember what happened next.
Mendoza was on duty in the cafeteria, cleaning up tables and spills, when he saw Blaze stand up, then fall on the floor.
“When I saw him on the floor, my first reaction was that he was playing,” Mendoza said. “Then I saw he couldn’t breathe. He was very weak, not his normal color.”
Mendoza performed the Heimlich Maneuver until the food came up and Blaze was breathing again. Mendoza said he had been trained in the technique when he worked at a nursing home in California.
A few days later, Keller district officials came to Parkview to honor Mendoza and give him a T-shirt, hat and an insulated lunch bag. He had his picture taken with Blaze and KISD operations supervisors.
Blaze’s mom, Sabrina Bevil, said her son asked her to print off a copy of the digital photo and frame it so he could remember the man who saved his life.
Parkview Principal Doreen Krebs said, “When I heard what Jesus did, it didn’t surprise me at all. Our custodians don’t just work here, they care about our scholars. It shows everyone how much they love their jobs and care about kids.”
Kids around Parkview call Mendoza a hero now. He was just glad to be in the right place at the right time for Blaze.
“I feel good because I helped him,” Mendoza said.