A Wagga man has been hailed a hero after saving an eight-month-old choking baby in dramatic scenes at a cafe this week.
Steve Barker was having a business meeting at a Lake Albert cafe on Wednesday when he heard the screams of a desperate mother, watching her daughter choking to death.
The culprit – a beaded teething garland – had come undone and was stuck in little Lukah’s throat.
Mr Barker, who was in the Royal Air Force for 26 years, immediately rushed to the family’s aid as the adrenaline kicked in, jumping through the cafe’s open window.
As Mr Barker pumped Lukah on the back, the bead eventually fell from the baby’s mouth.
He then turned his attention to calming down Lukah’s mother, Kahla Hilton, who had been left in hysterics.
“Afterward I was a bit shaky – I thought to myself that jeez this really could’ve turned out a different way,” Mr Barker said.
“I’m chuffed about how it all turned out.”
Mr Barker said the incident was a timely reminder for people to keep up their first-aid training.
“It’s one thing to do a course but it’s another to keep that training going,” he said.
“You never know when you’ll need it.”
Ms Hilton has been struggling to sleep since the incident but wants to warn others about the potential dangers of a beaded teething garland, after she believed hers was tightly knotted together.
“My baby was going to die, that's all I could think about,” she said.
“I haven’t let her out of my sight since – it’s very scary.
“I just wanted to get my story out there, so if one person looks and sees the beads coming undone and another child is saved, my job is done.”
After seven hours of hospital observation, thankfully Lukah emerged unscathed.
“I can't stop thinking that if that man wasn't there the outcome would've been a lot worse, he really is a superhero,” Ms Hilton said.
“I don't put blame on anyone for this happening but I do want to slap myself silly for putting so much trust in a piece of string.”
Ms Hilton was reunited with her daughter's saviour yesterday, where she met to thank Mr Barker.