Quick thinking at the Manvel Senior Center stops man from choking

Deb Hanson, a retired pastor, says Kennedy’s quick response and action at a meal on Tuesday, May 17, was heroic.

Robert Kennedy and Curtis Carlson.jpg
Robert Kennedy (left) of Manvel, North Dakota, and Curtis Carlson (right) of Alvarado, Minnesota, at the Manvel Senior Center.
Contributed / Deb Hanson
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MANVEL, N.D. – Robert Kennedy says that when he stood up to perform the Heimlich maneuver on his choking brother-in-law during a lunch at the Manvel Senior Center, he was just doing what he had to do.

“I don’t think I’m a hero by any stretch of the imagination,” said Kennedy, from Manvel.

But others who were there disagree. Deb Hanson, a retired pastor, says Kennedy’s quick response and action on Tuesday, May 17, was heroic and saved his brother-in-law, Curtis Carlson, of Alvarado, Minnesota.

“If he hadn’t been there to do that, it would have taken the rest of us longer to recognize what was happening and it might not have been such a good result,” she said.

Kennedy said he realized Carlson was choking after Carlson stood up during the meal and motioned to his throat. Kennedy jumped up and started performing the Heimlich maneuver on Carlson.


“I just gave the sign of choking and man, he got up quick,” said Carlson. “Boy, he was behind me so fast, and he squeezed hard.”

Nobody else in the room had noticed Carlson was choking until Kennedy started helping Carlson, said Noel LeTexier, pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Manvel, who was sitting across the table from Kennedy.

“I was praying that it was going to be successful once I realized what was happening,” said LeTexier. “It felt really good when Curtis was able to cough up what was obstructing his throat.”

Kennedy said he had never performed the Heimlich maneuver before, and couldn’t remember where he had learned it.

“I suppose I’ve seen it done on TV or something,” he said.

Kennedy gives some of the credit for his quick action to Carlson, who knew how to react to the situation. Carlson, who has choked and had the Heimlich performed on him twice, said often when people choke, they walk away from people so they don’t cause a scene. His advice to others who find themselves choking is to stay where the people are.

“For goodness sake, don’t leave the people,” he said. “Be where the people are because they will help you.”

Hanson said the moment caught the room off guard, but as quickly as it had happened, things were back to normal at the Manvel Senior Center.


“It was typical Scandinavian, you know, everybody sat down afterwards, made sure he was OK and then life goes on as usual,” said Hanson.

 "We are concerned about the safety and well-being of Sen. Cramer and his family in response to Michael Quinn’s violent and hostile pattern of behavior," a spokesman for Cramer said.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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