Daniel Petkiewich has worked at Not Your Average Joe’s in Watertown for three and a half years, and when he realized a diner was choking on food he leapt into action to save the woman’s life.
The Watertown Police Department honored Petkiewich for his heroic actions with a certificate and a special coin on Wednesday.
He learned choking safety techniques when he was a manager at Joe’s for a time. Petkiewich also credits his training as a member of the U.S. Army.
“I was in for 11 years, active and Reserve,” Petkiewich said. “We were trained, but not usually for that type of choking.”
Last week, Petkiewich, now a waiter, realized an older woman at one of his tables was choking on her food. He applied the Heimlich Maneuver and was able to get the food out of her airway. After his quick action, the reality of what had happened set in.
“My nerves were shot,” Petkiewich said. “I have never been a smoker but I smoked two cigarettes before the fire truck showed up.”
The woman could not attend Wednesday’s ceremony, but she expressed her gratitude, said Watertown Police Lt. James O’Connor.
“She was really thankful,” O’Connor said. “She probably called me five times to make sure she conveyed her gratefulness.”
Police Chief Michael Lawn, who presented the certificate and coin, said that not everyone would have acted so heroically.
“I have been restaurants when someone choked and most people put their head down,” Lawn said. “But you stepped in and took action.”
Petkiewhich’s mother, Marion, attended the ceremony, but she said she did not know about her son’s life-saving actions right away.
“He didn’t tell me right away,” she said. “He knew (the ceremony) was going to happen, and he didn’t want me to find out about it on Facebook.”
Afterward, Marion said she is very proud of her son.