Ex-'Ninja Warrior' contestant saves choking man

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A former American Ninja Warrior contestant who has made a career out of helping others may have saved a man's life.

Pavel Fesyuk, 32, of the Rochester suburb of Greece, N.Y.,  said he was driving around 4 p.m. ET Tuesday when he spotted a man hunched over in the road beside a stopped car. Once Fesyuk realized the man was choking, he said he pulled over, got out of his vehicle and asked how he could help.

"He showed me what he wanted me to do, to pat him on the back," Fesyuk said. "It didn't seem to work, so I grabbed him and did the Heimlich (maneuver)," pushing in and up on the man's abdomen as he stood behind him

It wasn't the best version of the Heimlich, Fesyuk said. He had not taken any first aid or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation training.

But Fesyuk said he wasn't thinking about technique. He simply wanted to clear the man's airway.

Within moments, the man swallowed the blockage, said Fesyuk, who was eliminated in 2015 from Stage 2 of American Ninja Warrior's Season 7.

"Anything was better than nothing," Fesyuk said.

The man was grateful for the help but in a rush to leave, Fesyuk said. He never found out the man's name and doesn't know what caused him to choke.

Fesyuk, who works for Town and Country Pest Solutions in Rochester, said he was on his way to his last job of the day when he came across the man. The native of Russia who moved to the United States when he was 5 often shoots video on his phone while driving — he was known on the show for his propensity for taking selfies before and after his runs — and already was recording when he spotted the man.

"Cars kept driving around him as he was choking," Fesyuk said, adding that he didn't think he'd done anything extraordinary. He shared the video with his boss and thought little more of it.

"I just helped someone in need," he said. "I guess that's not something people do anymore."

Follow Victoria E. Freile on Twitter: @vfreile

USA Today


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