Long Island police sergeant hailed as hero after saving boy choking on LEGO piece

RIVERHEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- A father from the East End of Long Island is calling a local police sergeant an "angel in blue" after she saved his son from choking to death on a LEGO piece.

The 23-month-old boy was at Pine Tree Day Care in Riverhead on Monday morning when he swallowed a two-inch long LEGO piece. Daycare workers called 911.

Riverhead Town Police Sergeant Jill Kubetz was less than one minute away and rushed over.

When she arrived at the day care on Roanoke Avenue, the boy was starting to turn blue. Kubetz began back thrusts, which dislodged the LEGO just slightly in the back of the baby's throat so he could get some air.

"When I rotated the baby to see if it was food or what it could be, I saw those two LEGO dots," Kubetz said in an interview with Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne.

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Those with the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps arrived quickly on scene.

Kubetz said paramedic Christine Klassert assisted in the ambulance.

"I held the baby up in the air, parallel, and she was able to get underneath," Kubetz said. "Because we could see a portion of the LEGO at the back of the throat, and she used a tool to get in the back and was able to pull it out."

Kubetz said the boy started breathing and crying.

"We all took turns smiling at the baby, and that was a great moment," she said.

The boy's father retrieved him at Stony Brook University Hospital and brought him back to the Ambulance Corps and to the Riverhead Town Police Department to thank all those involved.

"Another 30 seconds or a minute and it would have been a totally different story," said the father, who did not want to be identified by name. "My son is so lucky. He has his angels working overtime all the time."

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The father said he is going to give Kubetz a small picture of his son to put on her dashboard to remind her of her heroic efforts.

Kubetz, a mother of three girls, has been with the Riverhead Town Police Department for nearly 20 years. She said this is the first time she saved a choking victim.

"It was a good one," she said. "I definitely went home and hugged my children a little harder last night."

Pine Tree Day Nursery issued a statement saying the staff that attended to the child were CPR and first aid certified, and the Heimlich and back thrusts were performed immediately until the police arrived at the center and took over.

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