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Canton lifeguard trio honored for saving life

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CANTON — Three lifeguards working at Taylor Park have been credited with saving the life of a Norwood teenager who was choking on a hot dog July 9.

Benjamin B. Koser, 20, and Sarah P. Elliott, 19, both of Canton, and Mercedes S. Mackin, 19, Russell, were the quick-thinking trio.

“It was a team effort,” Miss Elliott said. “That’s what we’re trained to do. We were able to work together and get the job done.”

Friends of Casey Merrill, 15, Norwood, alerted Miss Elliott that their friend was choking. She was manning the lifeguard chair and cleared the beach of swimmers.

Mr. Koser came out of the lifeguard shack and started performing the Heimlich maneuver.

“His face was all red, and his eyes were bloodshot,” Mr. Koser said. “He was spitting up, and he couldn’t talk or breathe.”

Mr. Koser said he was scared but also felt his adrenaline going into high gear.

Miss Mackin assisted Mr. Koser with the Heimlich, which eventually cleared an airway for Mr. Merrill.

Canton Police Officer Kevin J. Mousaw said the choking victim was still in some distress but breathing when he arrived on the scene in response to a 911 call. State Police Officer Robert Larabee also responded.

Officer Mousaw credited the lifeguards for acting responsibly and professionally during a stressful situation.

“The outcome could have been fatal had they not started the Heimlich,” Mr. Mousaw said. “They all handled it very well.”

The Canton Rescue Squad took Mr. Merrill to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam, where he was evaluated.

The lifeguards were honored at this week’s village board meeting.

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