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Canton lifeguard trio honored for saving life

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CANTON - Three lifeguards working at Taylor Park have been credited with saving the life of a Norwood teenager who was choking on a hot dog July 9.

The trio includes Benjamin B. Koser, 20, and Sarah P. Elliott, 19, both of Canton, and Mercedes S. Mackin, 19, Russell.

“It was a team effort, “ Ms. Elliott said. “That’s what we’re trained to do. We were able to work together and get the job done.”

Friends of Casey Merrill, 15, Norwood, alerted Ms. Elliott that their friend was choking. She was manning the lifeguard chair and cleared the beach of swimmers.

Mr. Koser came out of the lifeguard shack and started performing the Heimlich maneuver.

“His face was all red and his eyes were bloodshot,” Mr. Koser said. “He was spitting up, and he couldn’t talk or breathe.”

Mr. Koser said he was scared, but also felt his adrenaline going into high gear.

Ms. Mackin assisted Mr. Koser with the Heimlich, which eventually cleared an airway for Mr. Merrill.

Canton Police Officer Kevin J. Mousaw said the choking victim was still in some distress, but breathing when he arrived on the scene in response to a 911 call; New York State Police Trooper Rob Larabee also responded.

Officer Mousaw credited the lifeguards for acting responsibly and professionally during a stressful situation.

“The outcome could have been fatal had they not started the Heimlich,” Mr. Mousaw said.”They all handled it very well.”

A crew from the Canton Rescue squad transported Mr. Merrill from the beach, Miner Street Road, to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, where he was evaluated.

The lifeguards were honored at this week’s village board meeting. Certificates were presented by Village Trustee Mary Ann Ashley on behalf of the board and by Brian McClusky, on behalf of the Canton Volunteer Fire Department.

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