OSWEGO, NY – It was a normal day that was about to come to an end as seventh grader Dillon “D.J.” Gibson and Oswego City School District bus aide Lori Lawton boarded the bus at Oswego Middle School for the lengthy trip home.
The two had no connection other than they were about to cross paths in an unforgettable event.
Lawton, who works for the Oswego City School District as a part-time bus aide as well as a line server at Oswego High School, had the afternoon bus assignment on Jan. 13.
She said, “I was riding on the late run out of the middle school and did a bus check of students twice. I went back toward the front of the bus to check on the other kids when a student shouted, ‘D.J. is choking!’ I looked back to see him slumped back in his seat and he was starting to turn blue.”
There was no panic as the other students moved away to provide Lawton with room.
She said, “I grabbed him by his right arm, pulled him up, stuck my arms around him and started to do thrusts on his chest. The candy came out.”
D.J. noted, “I was just eating a candy cane and I started to choke. I knew what was going on and I was a little bit scared, but it was really nice of her to do what she did for me.”
While Lawton was attending to the student the bus driver Jack Zeller radioed for assistance.
He was the communication between Lawton and the emergency crews as 911 was contacted immediately.
Zeller pulled the bus over to the shoulder along Route 48 and within minutes Emergency Medical Technicians from the Minetto Fire Department were on the scene.
Moments later an Oswego City ambulance arrived.
D.J. was transported to Oswego Hospital Emergency Room where he was later released.
D.J.’s grandmother, Marcella Gibson, said,” The doctors told us that the quick reaction of the bus aide and driver saved D.J.’s life.”
Oswego City School District Transportation Director Tom Gunn said, “I am proud of Lori’s action. I commend both her and Jack (Zeller) for keeping our kids safe. Each month we conduct training on different safety topics with all of the members of our staff. It is our most important job…to keep our kids safe.”
Lawton downplayed her role in the event.
She said, “When it was over I was scared, frightened and cried.”
However, during the situation she kept her composure.
The soft-spoken bus aide said, “Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I’ve been a bus aid for the past two years. I really feel the training that my boss (Gunn) provides helped me. This is probably bigger than it should be, but I was just doing my job.”
D.J.’s grandmother, is a school bus driver herself and noted, “D.J. knows the rules about eating candy on the bus and rest assured he won’t be eating candy on the bus again.”