NYPD Officer Gregory Zakoscielny’s razor-sharp observation saved the life an unnamed 49-year-old woman who was choking behind the wheel of her car on the Bronx River Parkway Wednesday afternoon.
The female motorist, traveling in a 2014 Ford Taurus, was choking on a throat lozenge when she passed by Zakoscielny’s patrol car.
He pulled her over and when she stopped, hazard lights flashing, he approached her.
“Step out, step out of the car,” Zakoscielny says to the woman as the entire incident is captured on his dash cam. “Are you choking? You choking?”
He then instructs her to put her hands on her chest and he performs the Heimlich maneuver. which dislodged the lozenge. The woman stood beside the car in relief, but Zakoscielny instructed her to sit down while he called an ambulance.
The 1:47 minute video has since gone viral.
The NYPD posted the dramatic rescue to their Facebook page where commenters identifying as medical professionals pointed out that if the woman was talking and breathing, then she was not choking and the Heimlich could have made matters worse. While others countered that she was still in need of help and Zakoscielny was able and willing to provide assistance.
Wherever one falls on the medical semantics issue, it’s still a good look for the NYPD, which has struggled even more with negative press than usual.
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Island man accused of selling loose cigarettes, was placed in an illegal chokehold by eight-year NYPD veteran Daniel Pantaleo and died after repeated gasps of, “I can’t breathe.”
Garner’s death has been ruled a homicide and, though Pantaleo has been stripped of his badge and weapon, he still has not been arrested or charged with a crime.