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Oklahoma 11-year-old saves choking student, helps woman from house fire on same day

On Dec. 9, sixth grader Davyon Johnson first saved a choking student by using the Heimlich maneuver and then helped an elderly woman from a burning home, officials say.
Davyon Johnson receives an honor from the Muskogee Police Department for using the Heimlich maneuver to save a classmate and later helping a woman with a walker get away from a housefire.
Davyon Johnson receives an honor from the Muskogee Police Department for using the Heimlich maneuver to save a classmate and later helping a woman with a walker get away from a house fire.Muskogee Public Schools via Facebook

An 11-year-old boy saved a choking classmate this month and then sprung into action a second time that day when he escorted an elderly woman from a burning home, Oklahoma officials said.

For most people, let alone a child, the selflessness Davyon Johnson displayed on Dec. 9 amounts to more than a lifetime of heroics.

But Davyon’s mother, Latoya Johnson, said Thursday that her son has always demonstrated maturity beyond his years. He merely showed, she said, his true self.

“He’s always been there to help, whenever he can,” Johnson said. “He’s just still the same kid. It’s not like it’s made him any more or any less.”

Muskogee Public Schools detailed Davyon’s actions in a statement Dec. 15, saying community officials recognized him with several awards.

“The Muskogee Public Schools Board of Education recognized sixth-grader Davyon Johnson during the board meeting Tuesday night,” the statement said. “Davyon performed the Heimlich maneuver on a classmate on December 9 and that evening helped a woman from her house that was on fire. Muskogee Police Department and Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office presented Johnson with a certificate denoting him as an honor member of their force.”

His mother said Davyon was initially too modest for the accolades.

“He didn’t really want recognition. But like I told him, he did something extraordinary,” she said.

The police department presented Davyon with an honorary certificate, the sheriff’s department deemed him an honorary deputy and the school board presented him with a heroism award, Johnson said.

Davyon racked up other honors, too.

Muskogee Mayor Marlon J. Coleman said Dec. 10 was declared “Davyon Johnson Day" in the city, which has about 38,000 residents and is about 50 miles southeast of Tulsa.

Next week, Coleman said, Davyon will receive the keys to his hometown.

“He sends a clear message to the people of Muskogee that this represents the type of people we really are,” Coleman said. “He was very heroic. He was very selfless. He did it almost as part of his natural personality. It wasn’t taught. It’s just who he is as a person. For us, it makes us proud that we have those type of young people in our community.”

Davyon told his mother he learned the Heimlich maneuver on YouTube, she said.

Davyon could not be reached Thursday because he was at wrestling practice. He told the Muskogee Phoenix newspaper, you never know when the life-saving measure will come in handy.

“Just in case you’re in the situation I was in, you can know what to do,” he said.

The news outlet also reported Davyon said all the attention he's received "felt good."

His memorable day began at school, Johnson said, where a boy ran into Davyon's classroom because he was choking.

“The little boy was trying to open a bottle of water with his teeth, and the top got lodged in his throat. He was trying to find help,” Johnson said.

Students crowded around the child, Johnson said, and “my son pushed everyone out the way and went and did the Heimlich maneuver.”

Davyon’s second act of heroism occurred blocks from their home hours later, Johnson said. It was the late afternoon and gettin dark when Johnson was driving her son home from wrestling practice and they smelled smoke.

At first, they thought nothing of it, Johnson said, but then they noticed that a home was burning.

Johnson parked in front of the home, honked her horn multiple times and called 911 because smoke was emanating from the back of the house, she said.

Davyon reached the front door and frantically knocked. Multiple people rushed out of the home, Johnson said. She thought the ordeal was over.

But as Davyon was moving toward her, Johnson said, an elderly woman with a walker stepped out of the front door.

At this point, the home was visibly on fire, and Davyon escorted the woman to safety, Johnson said.

She said she never feared for her son’s life, even though he put himself in harm’s way.

“I believe God is going to protect him, whatever he does in life,” she said, adding that she is beyond proud of her son.

His courage and desire to help will benefit him in the future, Johnson said. Davyon is considering a career as an emergency medical technician or a doctor, she said.

What Davyon did this month has been an emotional boost before the holidays, because his father died from complications of Covid-19 in August, Johnson said.

Davyon told his mom that his father's spirit was with him Dec. 9, she said.

“That’s something that my dad instilled in me,” he told her.