State Troopers Save Teenager's Life

State Troopers Save Teenager's Life

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Two New Jersey State Troopers are hailed as heroes after saving a wheelchair-bound teenager who might well have choked to death.

Cerebral Palsy leaves Julian Estrada with little control over his speech or movement. A simple snack could have cost him his life, if not for a pair of state troopers in the right place at the right time.

It was an emotional reunion, between the Estrada family, and the New Jersey state troopers who saved their 13-year-old son's life.

Filadelfo and Maricruz were northbound on route 129 late Sunday afternoon, when they heard a commotion in the back seat. 13-year-old Julian was choking on a chicken nugget and he couldn't breathe.

"When I see him, I see his face- calling me, 'help me, mommy!' and I can't help him. I tried to put my finger in and he bit me so bad," Maricruz said.

They pulled to the shoulder of the road and dad tried to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

"When I felt that no air was pumping out, I got really scared. That's when I said, I think we lost him," Filadelfo said.

A dashboard camera captures what happened next. Troopers James Hearne and Ruben Benavidez had just re-entered the road after a routine stop, when they saw the commotion.

"Initially, when we pulled up, it was chaos. You know, we have a kid choking," Benavidez said.

"I feel that I see the angel coming," Maricruz said.

Within ten seconds of the police cruiser coming to a stop, trooper Hearne was in place behind the struggling teen.

"I ran up to them. I got behind him, started the Heimlich...after a few thrusts the food started coming up. And after a few more, a big piece of chicken nugget came out," Hearne said. "His whole facial expression changed. You could tell he was breathing."

Trooper Benavidez, just two weeks on the job, called their dispatcher to report the incident- then used his Spanish skills to calm Julian's mother.

This reunion ended with Julian outfitted in a State Police hoodie. As for the troopers, well, they're covered in well-deserved glory.

"It feels great, to be honest," Benavidez said

The Estrada family tells us they've been taught the Heimlich maneuver, but they say in the panic of the moment, they blanked.


The Troopers practice life-saving techniques all the time when called upon, they were ready.

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