Mom Panics as Son Chokes on Chicken Nugget at McDonald’s—Then ‘Guardian Angel’ Saves the Day

June 11, 2021 Updated: June 11, 2021

A mother in Ireland praised a good Samaritan who saved the life of her son, who she said was “slipping away” in her arms, in a restaurant in Newry.

Mary Byrne, a mother of four, and her son were eating at McDonald’s when the near miss happened in late May.

She and her 5-year-old son, Johnny Og, had just visited the beach and, afterward, had decided on some takeout from the fast-food joint.

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Mary Byrne with her son, Johnny Og. (Courtesy of Mary Byrne)
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The McDonald’s restaurant located in Newry, Ireland. (Screenshot/Google Maps)

“Johnny Og went to put the wrappers in the bin and had a chicken nugget in his mouth,” Mary said, as reported by the Irish Mirror. “I called him and he didn’t answer, he just turned around and started staring at me.”

It was at that moment when she realized Johnny Og was choking on the chicken nugget. She rush over to him and tried to dislodge the food but was unable to.

“He wasn’t moving or speaking at that point and I feared he was slipping away,”  Mary said. “Another woman rushed to help and two men jumped out of a car but their efforts didn’t work.”

Mary started panicking; but luckily, a man named Gabriel McKenna entered the establishment just in time.

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Mary with her son, Johnny Og. (Courtesy of Mary Byrne)

“I don’t know where Gabriel came out of. I had Johnny Og across my knee and Gabriel just said, ‘Give me him,’” Mary said.

Gabriel held Johnny Og upside down in the air, and with two thrusts between the shoulder blades, the nugget was dislodged.

After her son was saved, Mary was so overcome with emotion she just went to her car where she called her husband and 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,” she said.

Gabriel, who lives in Cullyhanna, Armagh, called it divine intervention that he happened to be there at the right time, and said he was thankful he was able to help.

Mary referred to Gabriel as her guardian angel.

After the incident, she took to Facebook to try and track him down to thank him.

“I would love to be able to get an address for a man called Gabriel McKenna from somewhere in Cullyhanna?” Mary posted on Facebook. “Today this man saved my wee Johnny’s life, we were at McDonald’s in Newry when Johnny choked and I could not get the food dislodged.”

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(L-R) Gabriel McKenna, Mary Byrne, and her son Johnny Og. (Courtesy of Mary Byrne)

Within 20 minutes of posting, she received over 60 messages online from people telling her how good a man he is.

She eventually located Gabriel, and even took a photo with him and her son, which she posted on Facebook, along with a caption thanking him for his heroism.

“When you meet a hero, forever in his debt,” Mary wrote.

The mom has since pledged to start a CPR course, which is set to be offered in her community in the next few weeks.

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