You never know what the day will bring. That fact was confirmed again over the weekend when a teenager jumped through the drive-thru window of the fast-food restaurant she was working in and saved the life of a choking customer.  

It happened Saturday afternoon at a McDonald's in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, just southwest of the Twin Cities.

Sydney Raley handed a female customer part of her order through the drive-thru window and ducked back inside the restaurant. She then popped her head back out to let the woman know the rest of her order would be ready shortly when Sydney realized the woman was choking.

Sydney reported to CNN the woman was,

coughing like crazy, and I noticed she was gagging. Her daughter was in the passenger seat and she looked so freaked out. I immediately knew 'Oh, no, she's choking.'

Then Sydney went from being a teenager who'd worked at McDonald's for just 7 months, to a hero. After telling the girl in the front seat, as well as her manager, to call 911, Sydney headed through the drive-thru window to assist the woman.

After a couple of solo attempts to dislodge the food, Sydney asked another person to help. Sydney told CNN, "We worked together and were able to successfully dislodge the food from her throat."

The customer was ok, and Sydney then got the second big surprise of her day. After checking on the woman who had choked, officers from the Edina Police Department gave Sydney a pair of 50-dollar bills from a fund that rewards people who do good in the community. Sydney says they told her 'Congratulations, you're a lifesaver; you're a hero."

How Did She Know What to Do?

Four years earlier, when she was just 11, Sydney took a babysitter class through the Red Cross. It was there that she learned the Heimlich maneuver. Last Saturday was the first time she'd ever had to put it to use.

Sydney's Mom and Dad Arrived Shortly After

Sydney was nearing the end of her shift Saturday when all of this happened. Her parents, Stephanie and Tom, soon arrived to pick her up. When they saw the police car and ambulance they had no idea what had happened. However, Tom didn't seem overly surprised with the way his daughter jumped into action. He explained to CNN that Sydney had been diagnosed with autism at a younger age:

We always worried it was going to be a challenge for her, and it's done a complete 180. It's actually been a blessing and a gift at this point. All the things we worried about never happened.

Paul Ostergaard, owner-operator of the McDonald's location where Sydney became a hero on Saturday, said in a statement:

Sydney truly personifies what it is to be a hero and we are incredibly lucky to have her as a highly-valued crew member at our Eden Prairie restaurant location. We are excited to see all of the well-deserved recognition she has received from the community and will continue to celebrate her courageous efforts of literally jumping out of the drive-thru window to provide aid to a customer in need.

Tim Raley
Tim Raley
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