McDonald's Worker Climbs Through Drive-Thru Window to Save Choking Customer

A Minnesota teen has been praised for her quick thinking after helping to save the life of a McDonald's customer who was choking on a chicken nugget.

KARE11 first reported on how Sydney Raley, 15, from Edina, sprang into action after spotting a woman in distress while at a Golden Arches branch in Eden Prairie.

Sydney became aware of the issue while attempting to pass food to the woman and her daughter at the restaurant's drive-through window.

"I noticed that she was coughing profusely and her daughter just had this look on her face like sheer terror," she told the news outlet. "I could tell oh, crap, she's choking! Just seeing that visceral reaction I knew we need to act fast."

Sydney, who had undergone Red Cross first aid training when she became a babysitter, at age 11, knew exactly how to react to the situation.

"I jumped out the window of the drive-through and I got her out of the car and I told her daughter to call 911," Sydney told KARE11. "I started doing the Heimlich Maneuver, but I'm not really strong so it didn't work the first couple times."

Thankfully she was able to call on another bystander to help her with her efforts. He eventually succeeded in dislodging what police later told the news outlet was a chicken nugget.

Eden Prairie Police officers responding to the 911 call arrived on the scene soon after and each gave Raley a $50 bill in recognition of her heroic efforts.

The money came from the department's crime fund, handed out in recognition of an individual who went above and beyond what was expected for the local community.

In the case of Raley, Sergeant Scott Mittelstadt told the news provider: "She is well-deserving of that money."

Sydney's parents, Tom and Stephanie, credit the gifted teen's ability to think fast under pressure, in part, to her autism.

"I always tell her she has a gift, because she's autistic," Tom told KARE11. "She can remember anything – do anything. It's crazy."

Stephanie agreed: "She remembered all of the [first aid] training as a script in her head and was able to jump into action right away, just because it was stored up there and she can recall anything she reads and hears."

Sydney herself, meanwhile, told the news outlet that the experience has given her renewed confidence that she is "capable of contributing to society" and "making a difference."

Newsweek has contacted Eden Prairie Police, McDonald's and the Raleys for comment.

In October, dramatic footage surfaced of a Florida trooper saving a toddler from choking on a freeway. The officer was filmed delivering a series of back blows to the young child that eventually helped her regain consciousness.

A man receiving a McDonald's order.
A customer receives his food in a McDonald's drive-thru in 2021 - a Minnesota teen has been hailed for her efforts in helping save the life of a choking customer. Brand/Getty