Pandemonium After Waitress Gives Mennonite Man the Heimlich Maneuver

Lancaster, PA. Emergency crews were called as pandemonium broke out Tuesday evening at the Denny’s Restaurant along Route 30 in Lancaster when a Mennonite man was forcibly given the Heimlich maneuver by a waitress.

Police have yet to release all the details but according to eye witnesses, John Martin was with a group of his friends when he responded to something that was said in the conversation by standing up, slapping the table, and proclaiming loudly while laughing, “I’m choking! I’m choking!”

Darla Fritz, Martin’s waitress, was quick to respond and tried to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on Martin but he greatly resisted her attempts at helping and yelled even more loudly, “I’m choking! I’m choking, woman! What part of ‘I’m choking’ don’t you understand?”

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Eli Weaver was eating at the booth with Martin. He says that Martin’s numerous attempts to tell the waitress to that he was choking only made her double her efforts to perform the Heimlech on Martin. “It’s like she didn’t even understand English. Obviously John was chust choking, chust like he said over and over again.”

There was confusion as to why Martin resisted help for his condition.

Twila Chesney is a EMT with the Lancaster EMS. She says it is possible that Martin was hallucinating due to lack of oxygen, but notes that his behavior was unusual. “Usually a choking victim doesn’t put up such a violently physical fight because they are deprived of oxygen and are weak.” She notes that in this case, however, many tables, chairs, and broken cups were scattered across the restaurant suggesting that Martin wasn’t weak. “Strangely enough, he really didn’t want to be helped.”

Elly Sanchez says she was eating across the restaurant when she saw what was going on. That’s when she moved in to help Fritz give Martin the Heimlich. “The guy was freaking out. I’m not sure if he was struggling with a mental issue or why he wouldn’t let her [Fritz] help but choking is no laughing matter.” She says she and some other onlookers helped hold Martin while the waitress performed the Heimlich. Sanchez doesn’t think she deserves any praise because she “did what she hopes anyone would do for her or one of her loved ones.” As far as Sanchez is concerned, Fritz should be called a hero for saving a mentally ill man from choking.

Police say that the exact timeline and circumstances are still being worked out but it’s doubtful any charges will be filed since no one was seriously injured. Martin doesn’t intend to press any charges but refused to leave tip which angered some onlookers. “That was rude,” Sanchez said, “You should leave extra tip for someone who saves you from choking to death.”


Photo: “Denny’s Restaurant, Webb County, TX IMG 3175” by Billy Hathorn – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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