New Jersey Lifeguard Saves Choking Baby on the Boardwalk

On Friday, June 7, a ​New Jersey lifeguard​ saved an infant from choking on a piece of plastic found on the beach boardwalk. The lifeguard, Pete Laquaglia, was on his break when the incident occurred. He was on the boardwalk when he heard “numerous” screams coming from the infant’s grandmother. At the time, Laquaglia was grabbing a slice of pizza, which he quickly dropped when he fled to the scene. He arrived just in time, as the 10-month-old baby was on the verge of losing consciousness, choking on a loose plastic ring found at the top of a water bottle.

Laquaglia followed both his instinct and his training, flipping the infant over his knee and performing the Heimlich maneuver. Because infants are significantly smaller than adults, the Heimlich maneuver takes on a different approach. All lifeguards must learn the ins and outs of CPR and choking precautionary procedures​ — this case being a good example of why. Laquaglia was fully prepared to execute the Heimlich maneuver, and the baby began to cough up the plastic ring until Laquaglia was able to fully dislodge it using his fingers in a sweeping motion.


Despite numerous saves in his lifeguarding career, Laquaglia was jolted by this experience. When asked about the save, the 20-year-old heroic lifeguard said it was “Probably the scariest moment of my life knowing I literally had someone’s life in my hands.” He masked his fright well, as he remained calm throughout the incident. Thanks to his agility and responsiveness, the infant survived, serving as a reminder of the importance of having trained lifeguards patrolling our beaches.


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