13yo with autism saves his choking classmate with lesson from Spongebob Squarepants

© Eloy Alonso
Brandon Williams, a 7th grader with autism, heard his classmate choking during lunchtime and ran to help. Brandon knew exactly what to do: the Heimlich maneuver. He’d seen it on Spongebob Squarepants cartoons, and became a hero at school for performing it.

On October 28, Williams lifted Jessica Pellegrino from her seat as she was choking and pulled his arms hard into her diaphragm from behind until a piece of apple shot out of her mouth.

“She was choking in his [sic] mouth, so I saved her life, and he’s [sic] coughing in his [sic] throat, his [sic] mouth, and he [sic] pumped her just three times… and I saved her life,” Williams, 13, told a reporter for the Staten Island Advance.

Williams knew exactly what to do, how to do it, and even why he was doing it.

“I just love her,” Williams said, after Pellegrino said, “thank you,” as reported by the Advance.

Teacher, caretakers, and classmates at Barnes Intermediate School in Staten Island, New York celebrated the 7th grade student’s heroism with a party days later.

“The cafeteria is always very noisy, but I heard the kids calling me. I was ready to jump in, but Brandon had it,” Brian Griffin, a former police officer and Williams’ appointed paraprofessional for October 28, told the Advance. “He was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Anthony Williams, Brandon’s father, told the Staten Island newspaper “He picks up on things that most of us would miss, and files it all away in his head, and he can recall it all in an instant.”

It isn’t the first time Spongebob Squarepants has inspired a kid to take life-saving action. In 2010, Miriam Starobin, who was 12 at the time, used the same Heimlich technique to save her “BFF,” after watching the same episode that inspired Brandon Williams.

“It was like a flash right in my eyes. I saw in my head Squidward with his clarinet lodged in his throat and then SpongeBob does the Heimlich maneuver and the clarinet comes flying out of his mouth,” Starobin told the New York Post.