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McDonald's worker, 15, celebrated for saving woman choking in drive-thru

"[I] Feel as though...I’m actually capable of contributing to society and actually like capable of making a difference,” Sydney Raley said.
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When 15-year-old McDonald's worker Sydney Raley realized a customer she was serving had started choking in the drive-thru, she immediately leapt to action, jumping through the service window to perform the Heimlich maneuver — and potentially saving a woman's life.

Raley's Saturday shift at the McDonald's in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, began as any normal day would.

It was "the standard in-and-out rush, lunch rush," the teen, who has been working at McDonald's since the summer, told NBC affiliate KARE of Minneapolis.

"The line was completely packed," she said.

Raley, who began working at the fast-food restaurant over the summer, said she was giving out food in the drive-thru when she noticed a customer was "coughing profusely."

"I could tell that...she's choking. I jumped out the window of the drive-thru and I got her out of the car," she told the news station.

Raley said she told the woman's daughter to call 911 and then she asked a bystander to help. Together, the pair was able to successfully dislodge the chicken nugget the woman was choking on.

The 15-year-old said she had taken Red Cross first aid training several years ago when she was 11 and preparing to become a babysitter.

"It could’ve ended a lot worse but I am super thankful for that bystander who helped so much,” Raley said. “Because I am decent at first aid, but if it weren’t for him and our efforts together, it could’ve ended so much worse.”

When police responded, they thanked Raley and gave her $100 for assisting, the teen said.

Eden Prairie Police Sergeant Scott Mittelstadt told KARE the money came from a fund to recognize or help out citizens around the holiday season.

“Our crime fund gave every officer fifty dollars to hand out to wherever we feel the need, [including] if somebody did outstanding work, above and beyond,” Mittelstadt. “She is well-deserving of that money.”

Raley, who has autism, said the entire encounter has left her feeling proud of herself.

"[I] Feel as though...I'm actually capable of contributing to society and actually like capable of making a difference," she said.

Paul Ostergaard, the owner and operator of the Eden Prairie location, said he was proud of Raley for her "quick, heroic actions."

"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," he said in a statement.

"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."