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Liliana Leahy, center, hugs Newnan, Ga., Chick-fil-A team member Mia Isabella Velez, left, as she thanks her for saving the life of her daughter Theia, right. (Screenshot credit: WXIA-TV Atlanta)

GA Chick-fil-A Worker Jumps into Action, Saves Choking Child in Drive-Thru

09-21-2023

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A teenage Chick-fil-A worker in Newnan, Georgia is being called a "hero" after she saved the life of a three-year-old girl who was choking on a coin. 

WXIA-TV reports Mia Isabella Velez was working in the restaurant chain's drive-thru line. She saw a commotion happening in the line, dropped her iPad, and ran toward a car. 

"To be honest, I originally thought they were laughing and having a good time — sure enough, that wasn't the case," Velez said. 

Liliana Leahy, the child's mother, told WXIA that making a stop at Chick-fil-A wasn't one she had planned. She was on her way to Walmart with her daughter Theia in the back seat— when her motherly instinct told her to stop at the restaurant.

"Something told me to make a turn, make a turn. So I made a turn," Leahy said. Then she heard Theia making a weird sound and she turned to see that her daughter was choking and screamed for help. That's when Velez showed up to help and began performing the Heimlich maneuver on the child. 

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With just three thrusts, the 18-year-old was able to quickly dislodge the coin from the little girl's throat. 

"That thing was humongous! I saw it in the moment, but seeing it now— I forgot that's what came out of her mouth!" Velez told WXIA.

"It's surreal when you hear that you saved her life," she told the outlet. "You don't expect to get that title. It's a lesson for all of us to learn that you can be the light to somebody else, and I'm so glad I got to be the one for that family."

In all the commotion, Leahy forgot to get Velez's name and in a Facebook post asked for the public's help to identify the Chick-fil-A worker who saved her daughter's life. 

She called it a "miracle" that she stopped on the way to the grocery store. 

"I can't thank Mia enough for saving Theia. She was at the right place today and didn't hesitate for even a second," Leahy wrote in the post.

She added that God made a miracle happen when they stopped to get lunch. 

With the help of social media, Leahy and Theia were later reunited with Velez at the restaurant. They brought her flowers and balloons to thank her for her help.

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of