Michigan teen, 14, praised for 'saving grandpa's life' with Heimlich maneuver

PORTLAND, MICH. - Logan McDaniels thought his grandfather was having a heart attack when heard his strained breathing coming from the living room of their home in Portland.

Michael Tackett, 65, suffered one in January, along with a stroke, and has been living with his daughter Chanda Leske and her family for nearly a year. When he walked into the family's kitchen with a look of panic on his face the afternoon of Nov. 4, it turns out he was choking.

"I had eaten some roast, and I got a piece lodged in my throat," Tackett said.

He could barely breathe, but he managed to say one word to his grandson.

"Heimlich."

McDaniels' instincts took over.

Recalling the basics of the abdominal thrust maneuver he'd learned a few years before at Portland Middle School, McDaniels positioned himself behind Tackett and wrapped his arms around his chest. 

It only took the 14-year-old a few seconds to save his grandfather's life.

'Happy to be alive'

Leske was in the home's garage with her husband that afternoon when she heard her youngest son, Jonah McDaniels, 12, scream.

"It was a blood-curdling scream," she said. "The kind where you know something is wrong."

Leske ran into the house and found her father in a living room chair taking deep gulps of air.

Tackett said McDaniels saved his life.

Portland Ambulance Director Phil Gensterblum agrees. He said when emergency medical responders arrived at the house, Tackett had recovered enough not to need transport to a local hospital.

"The first thing my crew said when they got back from the call was, 'This kid probably saved his grandpa's life,'" Gensterblum said. "He recalled his training and was able to apply it in an emergency situation. It's awesome to see that."

A life-saver

City officials presented McDaniels with Portland Ambulance Service's first ever Live Saving Award at Monday's Portland City Council meeting.

McDaniels' family, including Tackett, attended. The attention has been awkward for the ninth grader, who said he simply reacted to his grandfather's plea for help.

"It just happened," McDaniels said. "I had never done it before, but I knew I needed to."

Leske said she's proud of her son.

"It's been a long year for our family," she said Wednesday. "I don't know if I would have been able to do what he did."

Tackett said he's "happy to be alive," and grateful McDaniels was there.

"I might not of come out of it had he not been there."

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© 2017 Lansing State Journal


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